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THERE are few stories that bear retelling so 
often as the subject of this volume. The 
youthful scholar who wrote that the British 
Isles were lumps of land surrounded by the Navy was 
undoubtedly wrong in letter but equally right in spirit. 
During the World War the long and critical submarine 
campaign made us remember when little else was 
stirring at sea that somebody somewhere was com- 
bating the menace with something. In the Court of 
Last Resort it was felt that the essential Front was 
the North Sea. Though the whole of the Continent 
went to Germany and perdition, the " lumps of land " 
would remain inviolate, provided they were "surrounded 
by the Navy." The first man and the last unit who 
fought in France, in Belgium, in Italy, in Gallipoli, 
in Eastern Europe, in Egypt, in Mesopotamia, in 
Africa, in Palestine, in the islands of the Pacific, did 
so by the grace of the British Navy. That good grace 
is the priceless heritage of centuries, to be treasured 
from generation to generation and passed on untar- 
nished and unimpaired. 

The full and complete story has never been told. 
It never will be told. The theme is too vast, and in 
some phases too controversial, for an individual to 
grasp even in a lengthy lifetime, though the compiler 
be gifted with the memory of a Macaulay, the energy 


The Story of the British Navy 

of a Wells, and the winged pen of a Hardy. Many 
and valuable attempts have been made to resurrect 
the squadrons of yesteryear, to catch the spirit of the 
men who made them, and worked them, and some- 
times perished with them ; to conjure up the romance, 
the agony and bloody sweat sacrificed on the altar 
of Sea-Power ; but " the half was not told." All the 
following pages can hope to do is to indicate in outline 
the more important phases of a varied and fascinating 
subject, " lest we forget." 

It is a matter of common knowledge that one of the 
compensations of memory is its inability to recollect 
the unpleasant with so keen an intensity as the 
pleasurable. Perhaps that is why we fail to learn 
so many of the lessons of history. We buy our 
experience in a dear market and then cut our losses. 
There is a school of philosophy which believes that all 
thoughts of the travail of national and international 
upheaval are best relegated to limbo with the events 
that occasioned them. If the war that was to end 
war had accomplished its idealistic mission the theory 
would need no refutation. As it did nothing of the 
kind we cannot beat our swords into ploughshares. 
One of the practical results of the conflict of 1914-18 
is a further stage in the evolution of fighting-ships 
and weapons with the idea of making them more 
deadly. The weight of a single shell from a 13'5-inch 
gun fired at Jutland was more than the weight of a 
broadside from the Victory at Trafalgar ; the United 
States Navy has now 16-inch guns in vessels embodying 


the lessons of the former battle, and 20-inch guns are 
in contemplation. The Dreadnought, the wonder-ship 
of the world in 1906, was consigned to the scrap- 
heap in 1921. In the latter year one firm purchased 
no fewer than 113 obsolete vessels of the Navy, 
including five battleships and half a dozen cruisers. 
However useful conferences on disarmament may be, 
they can no more preclude war than Scotland Yard 
can exorcize crime. 

While the Navy has still the simplicity of aim which 
has always characterized it, the means toward that 
end have become more and more complex with the 
passing of time. Ships of the viking type could fight 
singly or in numbers ; to-day the maritime machine 
is a veritable House that Jack Built. First is the 
battleship, the heavy father of the Fleet. The battle- 
cruiser is its more athletic brother, capable of appearing 
on the scene of action quicker and putting up a stiff 
fight until the arrival of the battleship, as was the 
case at Jutland. Its gun-power is less and its carcass 
more vulnerable, the idea of its instigator being that 
" speed is armour." Armoured and protected cruisers 
are the policemen of the ocean highways. They 
perform all manner of useful jobs. In addition to 
superintending traffic which implies the safety of 
floating commerce of their own country and the 
arresting of that of the enemy they scout for infor- 
mation, support the light cruisers and destroyers 
which spy nearer the hostile coast, attack transports 
should opportunity serve, and form an excellent third 


The Story of the British Navy 

line of defence. Destroyers are the cavalry of the 
seas, guarding the larger ships and delivering swift 
hussar-strokes with torpedoes and guns. As an anti- 
dote to the submarine, seeking whom it may devour, 
they are excellent. Other enemies of the latter are 
the various types of aircraft, with their inestimable 
advantage of being able to see below the surface to a 
considerable depth. The auxiliaries of the Fleet in- 
clude mine-layers and mine-sweepers, coastal motor- 
boats and repair-ships, seaplane-carriers and tankers, 
store-ships and floating hospitals. It is a clear case 
of much wants more. 

The " sea affair " of 1914-18 was an eye-opener 
in many ways. At Jutland the tactics of enemy 
destroyers rendered it necessary for the British Fleet 
to make alterations of course, involving loss of range 
and the escape of the Germans to their home ports. 
On the other hand, one battleship, the Marlborough, 
which remained in line, alone was hit by a torpedo. 
Only a dozen torpedoes in all were fired by British 
capital ships and battle-cruisers. The fight proved 
the superiority of gunfire over every other method 
of destruction. During the whole of the war only 
one British battleship, the Audacious, was sunk by a 

When hostilities ended in 1918 stocktaking began. 
Was the battleship to maintain its premier position, 
or had it been usurped by aircraft or the submarine ? 
There was a battle royal in the newspapers and 
lengthy discussions in the clubs. Eminent authorities 


differed. It remained for the First Lord to clear the 
atmosphere. He attempted to do so in introducing 
the Navy Estimates in 1920, when he stated that in 
the opinion of the Naval Staff " the capital ship 
remains the unit on which sea-power is built up. So 
far from the late war having shown that the capital 
ship is doomed, it has, on the contrary, proved the 
necessity for the type. On the German side the whole 
of the submarine campaign against merchant vessels 
was built up on the power of the High Sea Fleet. On 
the British side the enemy submarines in no way 
interfered with the movements of capital ships in 
carrying out operations ; destroyer screens, new 
methods of attack, and altered tactical movements 
defeated the submarine. . . . Nor at present could 
the Board of Admiralty subscribe to the statement 
that aircraft have doomed the capital ship. Aircraft 
are certainly of the highest importance in naval 
tactics, as regards reconnaissance, torpedo attacks, 
and artillery observation, but their rdle in present 
circumstances is that of an auxiliary and not of a 
substitute for the capital ship." At the same time 
Mr Walter (now Lord) Long added that "It is even 
possible that the present battleship will change to one 
of a semi-submersible type or even of a flying type, 
but such types are visions of the far future, not 
practical propositions of the moment." 

Despite the opinion of the Naval Staff, in 1921 a 
sub-committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence 
was formed to go into the question. It was not a 

The Story of the British Navy 

particularly polite way on the part of the Government 
of showing its faith in its own experts. Before the 
Great War Admiral Sir Percy Scott had emphasized 
the belief that the submarine dominated the battle- 
ship, and, after refusing to become a member of the 
new court of inquiry, summed up the situation from 
his own point of view by saying that he was quite 
sure that the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty 
" will never get the battleships in again." The result 
of the conference was in favour of the existing capital 

In referring to this decision in the House of Com- 
mons, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Admiralty 
also remarked on aircraft, stating that they were 
much more dangerous to submarines than to battle- 
cruisers and smaller fry. He instanced the case 
of the Goeben, which was subjected to attack from 
the air for five days as she lay ashore after striking 
a mine. Although fifteen and a half tons of explo- 
sives were dropped, she was hit only once, the damage 
being light. 

In commenting on this Sir Percy Scott pointed out 
that " The public are not reminded of the fact that 
this happened about five years ago, when we had no 
suitable bombs, and no torpedo-planes for attacking 
ships. The bombs used to attack the Goeben weighed 
about 40 Ib. to 100 Ib. Mr Holt Thomas tells us that 
to-day we would use bombs of one ton each ; what 
will they be in three years when our battleships are 
built ? It is the undeveloped future that we have 


to think about." In July 1921 fifteen aeroplanes of 
the United States Service attempted to drop fifty- 
two bombs on the former German Dreadnought the 
Ostfriesland. Thirteen bombs, weighing 600 Ib. each, 
fell on the target without doing appreciable damage. 
Three direct hits with 1,000-lb. bombs sent her to the 
bottom. As the battleship was merely floating on a 
calm sea at the time, the test can scarcely be regarded 
as conclusive. A similar verdict must be given in the 
case of the raids made twelve months later on the 
wireless-controlled but defenceless Agamemnon, though 
the novel method of operating the obsolete battleship 
furnished a vista of amazing possibilities. 

Important experiments have also been made with 
torpedo-carrying aircraft and in methods of attack 
by torpedoes governed by wireless from the land and 
the air. Had hostilities lasted another few weeks an 
aerial attack on the warships in the Kiel Canal would 
have been undertaken. 

The submarine is still something of an unknown 
quantity in marine warfare. It played no important 
part in any action in the North Sea. In March 1920 
M3. carrying a 12-inch gun housed in an armoured 
compartment forward of the conning-tower, success- 
fully completed her steaming and diving tests. When 
it is recollected that the biggest gun on the earlier 
Dreadnoughts was of similar calibre, the advance 
made in this type of vessel may be appreciated. In 
1914 a 14-pdr. was considered ample armament for 
surface work. Perhaps the ultimate solution will be 


The Story of the British Navy 

a craft capable of floating on, under, and above the 

Of the large number of volumes consulted during 
the writing of the following pages, I am under special 
obligation to the standard works of Nicolas, Jane, 
Clowes, Hannay, Corbett, Colomb, Mahan, and Thurs- 
ton, in addition to the publications of the Navy Records 
Society. Whenever possible I have used official dis- 
patches or the words of eyewitnesses in preference to 
a second-hand version of events. I am particularly 
indebted to a number of officers and men who fought 
at sea in the Great War for valuable information 
detailed in the concluding chapters. The latter, con- 
siderably revised, are reprinted from two of my naval 
books now unobtainable. 























DAY, 1797 185 





The Story of the British Navy 






LANDS 281 

SEAS 294 







INDEX 379 




THE " QUEEN ELIZABETH " Frontispiece 

Battle-cruiser. Completed 1914. Tonnage, 27,500. 
Armament : eight 15-inch, sixteen 6-inch, twelve 
12-pdrs. Speed, 25 knots. 


A ship of under 100 tons, in which John Cabot and 
eighteen hands sailed in 1497 under the auspices of 
Henry VII. Seeking to find the North- West Passage 

to India, Cabot discovered Newfoundland. 


r Laid down at Erith 1512, and completed in 1515. 
Displacement probably about 1,000 tons. Armament, 
twenty -one heavy brass guns and smaller weapons. 


Drake's flagship in the attack on the Armada, 1588. 
Built 1577. Displacement, 500 tons. Armament, 
forty-six guns. Sunk at sea 1591. 


Originally the Naseby. Built 1655. Displacement, 
1,229 tons. Armament, eighty guns. Taken prize by 
the Dutch, 1667. 

THE " VICTORY " 146 

Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar, 1805. Launched at 
Chatham 1765. Displacement, 2,162 tons. Armament, 
a hundred and four guns. 


Speed about ll knots. The fastest of these vessels 
were the Ariadne and the Orlando, both of which 
attained a speed of 13 knots. 


Britain's first ironclad ship. Launched in 1860. 
Displacement, 9,210 tons. Thickness of armour, used 
in central part only, 4j-inch. Main armament, 
twenty-six 68-pdrs. Speed, 12 knots. 


The Story of the British Navy 



Turret battleship. Launched 1869. Displacement, 
8,320 tons. Armament, four 25-ton 12-inch guns and 
lighter weapons. Speed about 15 knots. 


Turret battleship. Launched at Portsmouth 1876. 
Displacement, 11,880 tons. Armament, four 80-ton 
16-inch guns. Speed, 12J knots. Citadel armoured 
with 24-inch iron. 


Ironclad of the ' Admiral ' class. Built 1885. Dis- 
placement, 10,600 tons. Armament, two 110-ton 
16.5-inch guns and thirty-six smaller weapons. 



First-class protected cruiser. Launched 1895. Dis- 
placement, 14,200 tons. Armament, two 20-ton guns 
and smaller weapons. Speed, 21.8 knots. 


The first British all-big-gun battleship. Completed 
1906. Tonnage, 17,900. Armament, ten 12-inch guns 
and twenty-four 12-pdrs. Speed, 21 knots. 

THE " KIBBLE " 314 

Destroyer of the E Class. These vessels vary in dis- 
placement from 530 to 650 tons, and were built 
between 1903 and 1908. Armament, four 12-pdrs. 
and two 18-inch torpedo-tubes. Speed, 25 knots. 


Battle-cruiser. Completed 1912. Tonnage, 26,350. 
Armament, eight 13.5-inch anil sixteen 4-inch guns. 
Speed, 31 knots. 


SHIP 870 

This class was built between 1911 and 1913, and has 
a displacement of 800 tons. Armament, two 3-inch 
guns and four torpedo-tubes. 


The British Navy 


Our First War Fleet 

The sea is the life-blood of the nation. 


NEITHER legend nor fact suggests the name 
and condition of the world's first navigator. 
Looking out from the tangle of a primeval 
forest on a watercourse, or from the arid banks of the 
Tigris or the Euphrates, he probably saw a substantial 
branch drifting with the stream. Placing himself 
astride it with the idea of crossing to the other side, 
this Great Unknown made the pioneer essay in the 
intricacies of seamanship. 

To hollow a log as a means of security and of 
comfort, to fix a stone beneath to give it stability, to 
shape it so as to offer less resistance to the element 
in which it floated, and to erect a sail of plaited rushes 
may have taken many centuries of evolution. In these 
mysteries of History we are perforce agnostic, though 
perhaps our surmise may not be far wrong if we suggest 
that a fish gave inspiration to the designer of the first 
boat. If knowledge of yesterday and to-day abides in 
the shades, the primitive shipbuilder has at least the 
satisfaction that in shape his conception has been 
little altered. 

The hardy Norsemen set the fashion in craft for 
Northern Europe at a period so far back that Clio 
herself has forgotten. Even the Scandinavians, we 


The Story of the British Navy 

are led to believe, had borrowed of the Phoenicians, 
as the latter had done of the Egyptians. The con- 
servatism of perhaps centuries before the dawn of 
the Christian era remains imperturbable to-day. The 
viking ship, little altered, is still to be seen in the 
beautiful fjords of Norway. It may yet flaunt 
Democracy and run before the wind into " the red 
surges of a burning world." 

To the Northmen the sea was mainly a highway 
for piracy and a route that enabled them to pillage 
on land, though the adventurers by no means despised 
a ' deal ' when commerce was deemed more politic 
than murder. Tradition and reason suggest that the 
latter alternative was usually brought about by reason 
of greater strength on the part of the people in 
possession. It may have been the origin of Diplomacy. 
Norwegians and Danes harried the shores of Western 
Europe, England, Scotland, and Ireland to much 
good measure, setting up Scandinavian kingdoms in 
the Emerald Isle, the Hebrides, Man, and England. 
Their captives they sold as slaves to the barbarians of 
Russia, the gold and silver they kept for themselves, 
thereby showing a shrewd distinction in values. The 
Swedes confined their nefarious attentions mainly 
to the Baltic coast, winning the esteem of those 
outside that rugged littoral, and the entirely reasonable 
hatred of those within. 

How these hardy and intrepid mariners faced the 
sea in their open boats, without chart or compass, 
voyaging to Iceland, the North Polar regions, and 
Greenland, and reaching America half a thousand 
years before Columbus, remains their secret. The 
narrow North Sea can be both ugly and angry on 
occasion, still more so the broad Atlantic. By the 

Our First War Fleet 

ninth century the vikings had visited Spain, raided 
Seville, and made descents on Northern Africa. Two 
hundred years later they had founded an empire in 
Southern Italy and Sicily. Notwithstanding their 
anything but peaceful penetration abroad, the Norse- 
men developed a wonderful civilization at home, 
though some of them worshipped Odin at Trondhjem 
with much good heart after having received Christian 
baptism elsewhere. They were artists in religion and 
decoration, and art is usually regarded as a refinement. 

It has been argued with much plausibility by 
scientific men that the tonnage of Noah's ark was 
nearly 15,000, and that instead of being built in the 
shape of a Thames' barge with a row of cottages on 
it, the vessel was entirely worthy of a shipwright. 
However this may be, and accepting the traditional 
date of the Flood, the contemporary Egyptians were 
then using serviceable craft far removed from the 
dug-out. Probably the first maritime route was the 
Nile, navigated many a long year previous to the 
twenty -eighth century before Christ, the date of the 
earliest representation of a sea-going ship. As the 
vessel shows Phoenician prisoners, it is evident that 
voyages in the Eastern Mediterranean had already 
been made. When Pharaoh's ships were laden with 
cedar of Lebanon our own ancestors were living in 
the Stone Age in lake-dwellings. 

Long before the Exodus the Egyptians had engaged 
in the Red Sea trade and indulged in expeditions to 
the mysterious land of Punt usually identified with 
Somaliland. Precious woods, resin of incense, ebony, 
carved ivory set in gold, dog-eared apes, long-tailed 
monkeys, leopard-skins, and natives comprised their 
motley cargo on the return voyage. The ships of this 


The Story of the British Navy 

period were rigged with a square sail, aided and abetted 
by thirty rowers. The primitive paddle had then gone 
out of fashion, and raised cabins fore and aft had 
been introduced. 

Phoenicians were well aware of some safe landing 
in Cornwall, whence they secured tin, and it is 
extremely likely that they also had commercial inter- 
course with the south of Ireland. These merchant 
mariners of the ancient world are said to have circum- 
navigated Africa between 610 and 594 B.C., and 
discovered a route to India. For tin, lead, wool, and 
hides they bartered baubles, salt, and earthenware. 
Frankly, the bargain seems to have been on their side. 

These Tradesmen of the Levant preceded the first 
visit of Caesar to Britain, in 55 B.C., before whose 
coming the Veneti of ancient Gaul had established 
excellent commercial relations with England. The 
maritime ambitions of the islanders developed late 
in the day. The Roman invader made no attempt 
at occupation, and it was not until the coming of 
Aulus Plautius in A.D. 48 that conquest was begun. 
During the governorship of Agricola (78-84) the rule 
of Rome was consolidated in England and Wales. 
The Romans remained in occupation for over three 
centuries, compelling the Britons to cease their too- 
frequent inter-tribal wars and to abandon Druidism. 

The incursion of the Saxons into the piracy business 
toward the end of the third century led to the appoint- 
ment of an official known as Count of the Saxon Shore, 
who was provided with land, soldiers, and ships. His 
jurisdiction extended from Norfolk to Sussex, and 
apparently on the opposite side of the Channel. The 
first holder of the title was Carausius, who seized the 
naval station of Gesoriacum, and announced himself 

Our First War Fleet 

as one of the emperors of Rome. His claim was 
eventually acknowledged by Maximian and Diocletian. 
Carausius remained in command of the sea, and there- 
fore of Britain, until his assassination in 293. Note 
the importance of the maritime factor. 

When the Emperor Honorius evacuated the province 
at the beginning of the fifth century the Picts and 
Scots invaded " from the North and North-west." 
Such is the information vouchsafed by Gildas, a Welsh 
monk and our sole contemporary authority. He adds 
that in response to an appeal the Romans sent a legion 
and drove the intruders back, that the same thing 
happened a second time, but after the final withdrawal 
of the soldiers the Picts from the north and the Irish 
rovers called Scots renewed their unwelcomed atten- 
tions. Help was sought from the Saxons really the 
Jutes but after it had been given the friends turned 
enemies. " Then," says the chronicler, " was kindled 
by the sacrilegious hands of the eastern folk a fire 
which blazed from sea to sea, and sank not till its 
red and cruel tongues were licking the western ocean." 
Within the period A.D. 450-520 Angles, Saxons, and 
Jutes were firmly established in Kent, the Isle of 
Wight, Essex, Middlesex, Sussex, Wessex, Suffolk, 
Norfolk, and on the north-eastern coast to the Firth of 
Forth. The original home of all these foreigners was 
the country we now call Denmark. 

It was in 787 or thereabouts that, in the quaint 
language of an old annalist, " first came three ships 
of Norsemen from Haerethaland. . . . Those were 
the first ships of Danish men that sought the land 
of the English race." Apparently the writer was 
under the impression that there was no difference 
between Norsemen and Danes. There is little doubt, 


The Story of the British Navy 

however, that the invaders were inhabitants of Norway 
who had settled at Hardeland, in Jutland. Recording 
their attack on Lindisfarne, off the Northumbrian 
coast, Simeon of Durham writes as follows : 

" In the same year [793], of a truth, the pagans 
from the northern region came with a naval armament 
to Britain, like stinging hornets, and overran the 
country in all directions, like fierce wolves, plundering, 
tearing, and killing not only sheep and oxen, but 
priests and Levites, and choirs of monks and nuns. 
They came, as we before said, to the church of 
Lindisfarne, and laid all waste with dreadful havoc, 
trod with unhallowed feet the holy places, dug up 
the altars, and carried off all the treasures of the holy 
church. Some of the brethren they killed ; some they 
carried off in chains ; many they cast out, naked 
and loaded with insults ; some they drowned in the 
sea. . . . 

" A.D. 794. The aforesaid pagans, ravaging the 
harbour of King Ecgfrid, plundered the monastery at 
the mouth of the river Don. 1 But St Cuthbert did 
not allow them to depart unpunished ; for their chief 
was there put to a cruel death by the Angles, and 
a short time afterward a violent storm shattered, 
destroyed, and broke up their vessels, and the sea 
swallowed up very many of them ; some, however, 
were cast ashore, and speedily slain without mercy : 
and these things befell them justly, since they heavily 
injured those who had not injured them." 

The first expedition of the Danes proper was in 
834, when they ravaged Sussex. Their second visit 
was made a couple of years later, when they went 
further down the Channel and landed at Charmouth, 

i Really the Wear. 

Our First War Fleet 

in Dorset. They met with a hostile reception, and 
although victors, made no attempt to secure a footing. 
In 838 another band of invaders was defeated at 
Kingston Down. Two years intervened, and they 
again attacked Dorset, Portland being the scene of 
their depredations, followed in 841 by bloodshed at 
Lindsey and on the East Anglian coast. Again and 
again they disturbed the inhabitants of various 
English towns, including London and Rochester. In 
851, however, we read in the Chronicle that Aethelstan, 
King of Kent, " brought fourteen ships and slew a 
great force at Sandwich in Kent, and took nine ships 
and put the others to flight." This information is 
interesting because it introduces sea-power in defence, 
although in an extremely small way. Unfortunately 
Aethelstan 's victory does not appear to have been 
decisive, for we are told that " the heathen men for 
the first time took up their quarters over winter in 
Thanet. And in the same year came three hundred 
and fifty ships to the north of the Thames, and landed 
and took Canterbury and London by storm, and put 
to flight Beorhtwulf, King of the Mercians, with his 
army, and then went south over the Thames into 
Surrey, and there King Aethelwulf and his son 
Aethelbald, with the army of the West Saxons, fought 
against them at Aclea, and there made the greatest 
slaughter among the heathen army that we have 
heard tell of until this present day, and there gained 
the victory." 

These predatory expeditions continued on and off 
until 866, when Aethelred I was King of Wessex. 
That year witnessed an invasion of East Anglia by 
the Danes, who wintered there and afterward marched 
on Northumbria, seizing York. Mercia was the next 


The Story of the British Navy 

scene of their operations, followed by a further attack 
on Northumbria, East Anglia, and Essex. After con- 
testing Wessex at Reading, the Danes were worsted 
at Ashdown by Aethelred and his brother Alfred. 
Two further battles ensued, in both of which the 
foreigners were victorious, despite severe losses. The 
last-mentioned conflicts took place in 871, the year 
in which Alfred, who is usually regarded as the founder 
of the British Navy, became king. 

His reign did not open auspiciously, for he was again 
defeated at Wilton, in Wiltshire. From the fact that 
they were willing to withdraw from Wessex on payment 
by Alfred of a subsidy, one must surmise that although 
the Danes had secured a series of victories they had 
also paid dearly in dead and wounded. They sought 
easier prey in Mercia, where they set up a thegn of their 
own, and also consolidated their conquests in North- 
umbria. This gave Alfred an opportunity to build a 
number of vessels for fighting purposes, for he discerned 
that maritime power alone enabled the Danes and 
other invaders to attack and secure a foothold in 
England, and that attack at sea was the only way of 
resisting the designs of future hordes. Whatever 
former kings may have had of the nature of a fleet, 
the foregoing record shows it to have been virtually 
useless. Alfred doubtless copied the Danes in the 
matter of shipbuilding ; indeed, he seems to have 
improved on their models in certain particulars. 
According to chroniclers, some of them had forty oars 
and upward, and probably a single sail. The Bang's 
ships were divided into three squadrons, kept on the 
east, west, and north coasts respectively, which was 
admirable strategy. 

By 875 Alfred had made excellent progress with 

Our First War Fleet 

his fleet, for we are told in the Old English Chronicle 
that " in the summer, King Aelfred went out to sea 
with a naval force, and fought against the crews of 
seven ships, and took one of them, and put to flight 
the others." 

The peace which the King had bought in 871 was 
broken five years later, but sea-power was still with 
the Danes. With the assistance of Scandinavian 
settlers or rovers from Ireland, they established them- 
selves at Wareham, on the Dorsetshire coast. From 
thence some of them escaped to Exeter, and had it 
not been that many of their ships were wrecked by 
a storm reinforcements would have reached the Devon- 
shire contingent. They were forced to capitulate, and 
agreed to evacuate entirely Alfred's kingdom. " The 
naval force," says the historian, " sailed west about ; 
and then a great storm met them at sea, and there 
perished a hundred and twenty ships at Swanwick. 
And King Aelfred, with his force, rode after the 
mounted army as far as Exeter, but could not over- 
take them before they were in the fastness, where they 
could not be come at. And they there gave him as 
many hostages as he would have, and swore great oaths, 
and then held good peace." 

In 878, "after Twelfth Night," hostilities re- 
commenced, the Danes taking up a position at 
Chippenham and fortifying it, while their allies at sea 
harried Devonshire with twenty-three ships. Some of 
the English, dispirited by seemingly never-ending 
warfare, deserted to the enemy. Alfred, " with a little 
band, withdrew to the woods and moor-fastnesses " of 
the Isle of Athelney, in Somersetshire. Here he is sup- 
posed to have been roundly scolded by the neatherd's 
wife for allowing her cakes to burn. In response 


The Story of the British Navy 

to Alfred's message, " Let every man who is not 
worthless come ! " he gathered sufficient forces to 
attack the Danes at Edington (a place which has not 
been identified with certainty) and completely defeated 
them. In the subsequent treaty of Wedmore it was 
agreed that Alfred should hold the southern half of 
Mercia, Wessex, and Kent, while his former enemies 
should retain possession of Northumbria, East Anglia, 
and the northern half of Mercia. 

Little is known of the vessels of the Anglo-Saxon 
period. So far as we can ascertain they were similar 
to the viking ships, with bows and sterns upturned 
and ornamented, without a deck, having a solitary 
mast with a square sail, an ample supply of oars, and 
steered by a paddle fixed to the quarter. Probably 
sixty men at most would constitute the crew. Alfred 
introduced a type known as cescs, which are described 
in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as " full-nigh twice as 
long as the others ; some had sixty oars, and some 
had more ; they were both swifter and steadier, and 
also higher than the others. They were shapen neither 
like the Frisian nor the Danish ; but so as it seemed 
to himself that they might be most useful." 

As these long-ships were specially built for dealing 
with his sea enemies, we may take it that they con- 
stituted the first English war fleet. Appropriately 
enough, after delivering himself of the above descrip- 
tion, the ancient historian just quoted proceeds to 
give a sample of their fighting qualities. 

" Then on a certain time," he writes, " in the same 
year [897] there came six ships to Wight, and did 
there much evil, both in Devon and elsewhere on the 
seashore. Then the King commanded [his men] to go 
thither with nine of the new ships and they blockaded 

Our First War Fleet 

against them the mouth into the outer sea. They 
then went with three ships out against them, and 
three lay high up in the mouth, in the dry : the men 
were gone off on shore. They then took two of the 
three ships at the outward mouth, and slew the men, 
and the one escaped, in which also the men were 
killed, save five, who came away because the ships of 
the others were aground. They were also aground 
very inconveniently ; three were aground on the side 
of the deep on which the Danish ships were aground, 
and all the others on the other side, so that not one 
of them could get to the others. But when the water 
had ebbed many furlongs from the ships, then the 
Danish went from the three ships to the other three 
which had been left by the ebb on their side, and they 
then fought there. There were slain Lucumon the 
king's reeve, and Wulfhard the Frisian, and Aebbe 
the Frisian, and Aethelhere the Frisian, and Aethel- 
ferth the king's companion, and of all the men, Frisian 
and English, sixty-two, and of the Danish a hundred 
and twenty. But then the flood came to the Danish 
ships before the Christians could shove theirs out ; 
and they therefore rowed away out ; they were then 
so damaged that they could not row round the South 
Saxons' land, for there the sea cast two of them on 
land, and the men were led to the king at Winchester, 
and he commanded them to be there hanged ; and 
the men who were in the one ship came to East Anglia 
sorely wounded. In the same summer no less than 
twenty ships, with men and everything, perished on 
the south coast." 



The Coming of Duke William 

Small measures produce only small results. 


ALFRED'S notion that the proper way to use 
a fleet was to take the offensive, to attack 
the enemy before he reached the shore, and to 
patrol the coast, for which purpose it is said he 
eventually succeeded in maintaining no fewer than 
300 vessels, was followed by Edward the Elder, 
Athelstan, and Edgar. The second became first king 
of all England and the first English monarch to enter 
into alliance with a foreign sovereign for warlike 
purposes. William of Malmesbury is authority for the 
information that Athelstan was presented by Harold, 
King of Norway, with a ship worthy of so keen a 
warrior. It had a purple sail and a prow of gold, while 
shields of the same precious metal formed the bulwarks. 
During the reign of Ethelred the Unready the Danes 
again played havoc, and although defeated in an 
attack on London, they subsequently committed 
terrible destruction in West Kent, Devon, Somerset, 
Hampshire, Wiltshire, and East Anglia. Three times 
Ethelred * bought off ' his enemies, and finally he made 
a determined effort to put his navy on a firm footing. 
For this purpose he levied the first tax ever raised 
for the senior service, and when the boats were ready 
stationed them at Sandwich. The crews of a score of 

The Coming of Duke William 

ships were worked upon by Wulfnoth, father of Earl 
Godwin, and threw in their lot with him and boldly 
made off. Although eighty vessels were sent in chase 
the weather favoured the enterprising traitor, for a 
gale sprang up and dispersed the pursuers, driving many 
ashore. Wulfnoth was evidently a more skilful seaman 
than the commander of the King's 1 squadron, for he 
destroyed all the craft that did not sink. Ethelred, 
unwilling to take further risks, returned to London, 
to which place what remained of the shattered navy 
was also taken. It is not surprising that the Danes 
recommenced their plundering and burnings in East 
Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, and Berkshire. 

Swain, who had taken part in some of these predatory 
expeditions, landed with his son Canute at Sandwich 
in 1013. There is no need to follow his wanderings 
in detail. The essential fact is that they ended with 
his becoming king. On Swain's death Canute was 
elected his successor by the fleet. In 1028, " with fifty 
ships of English thegns," aided by a Danish fleet which 
brought up the number of his available vessels to 
1,440, he sailed to Norway and conquered the country. 

Nothing further of striking importance happened 
on the sea until the early years of Edward the 
Confessor's reign. In 1044, owing to information that 
Magnus, King of Norway, entertained the idea of the 
invasion of England, he concentrated a powerful 
fleet at Sandwich. Nothing came of the threat, however, 
although two or three years later a successful raid was 
made on the port. 

Probably the most popular fact of English history 
is the chronological " William the Conqueror, 1066- 
1087 " of childhood. The tremendous significance 
of the first date is usually lost. The Duke of Normandy 


The Story of the British Navy 

had a large army that of itself was quite valueless 
for other than Continental warfare. Backed by a 
powerful fleet the land-force had far-reaching poten- 
tialities. Harold knew that immense preparations 
were being made in all the ports of Normandy, and 
like a wise king prepared to resist the coming of his 
rival. Sandwich again resounded to the tramp of 
troops and the plash of oars, and for a time the King 
made the place his headquarters. Whether he got tired 
of waiting, as has been suggested, or allowed the crews 
to return home on account of lack of provisions, is not 
a matter of exact record. When historians disagree 
Truth is shamed. Harold, says the compiler of the 
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, " then gathered so great a 
naval force, and also a land-force, as no king here 
in the land had before gathered ; because it had for 
truth been said to him, that Count William of 
Normandy, King Eadward's kinsman, would come 
hither and subdue the land, all as it afterwards came 
to pass. . . . Then came King Harold to Sandwich, 
and there awaited his fleet, because it was long before 
it could be gathered. And when his fleet was gathered, 
he went to Wight, and there lay all the summer and the 
autumn ; and a land-force was kept everywhere by 
the sea, though at the end it availed nought. When it 
was the Nativity of St Mary [September 8th] the men's 
provisions were gone, and no man could longer keep 
him there. The men were then allowed to go home 
and the King rode up, and the ships were driven to 
London, and many perished before they came hither." 
The vessels were ordered to London, where they 
were least wanted. Many were lost on the way. Thus 
a fine armament disappeared, and when William was 
ready Harold was not. Another Harold Harold 

The Coming of Duke William 

Hardrada of Norway assisted by the treachery of 
the English King's unscrupulous brother Tostig, had 
invaded the North, attacked Scarborough, sailed up 
the Humber and the Ouse, and secured York. In the 
battle that ensued at Stamford Bridge Harold 
Godwineson was victorious. " But," as Thierry says, 
" while these enemies were departing, never to return, 
other enemies were approaching ; and the same breath 
of wind that waved the victorious Saxon banners as in 
triumph also filled the Norman sails, and wafted them 
toward the coast of Sussex." 

Bull, banner, and ring arrived from the Pope for 
Duke William. The first excommunicated Harold ; 
the second was blessed to bring good luck to the 
expedition and to make of it something of the nature 
of a crusade ; the third was sent as evidence of personal 
regard. At a great meeting held to consider the project, 
to which most, if not all, of the bigwigs of Normandy 
were invited, there were those who even in those days 
were not afraid to speak their minds and to question 
the advisability of the undertaking. " We are not 
bound to pay him an aid for any expedition beyond the 
sea," they objected. " He has burdened us too much 
already by his wars : if he fail in his new expedition 
our country is ruined." Others said that an " adventure 
beyond the ability of a Roman emperor could but result 
in the destruction of their own beautiful Normandy." 

The dissentients were in the majority, but William 
interviewed them personally, with the almost in- 
evitable result that they surrendered to his views, 
and money poured into the ducal coffers and kind 
into the ducal storehouses. 

Then came much drum-beating for the army. Rich 
booty was promised, a bishopric in England was 


The Story of the British Navy 

mortgaged for a vessel and twenty men-at-arms ; 
land, castles, and wives were freely distributed. The 
scum of humanity drifted to the ports of Normandy, 
where shipwrights, armourers, and smiths plied their 
trades to the undoing of Albion. You can see them hard 
at it in the Bayeux Tapestry. They, with adventurers 
and honest men, were enlisted at good pay. Others 
entered the ranks to save their souls by fighting 
beneath the papal banner. 

With his friends and relations Duke William fared 
less well. Other men have had similar experience. 
Like the guests invited to the great supper, " they all 
with one consent began to make excuse." King Philip, 
assisted in his decision by his councillors, argued that 
as William had never showed him particular respect 
as Duke of Normandy he was scarcely likely to mend 
his manners as King of England ; on the other hand 
there was the likelihood that if he failed the victorious 
nation would almost certainly become enemies of 
France. He therefore preferred to have nothing to do 
with the matter. William's brother-in-law, the Count 
of Flanders, followed suit. A few princelings and knights 
threw in their lot with him. 

As the place of concentration for his fleet the Duke 
fixed on the mouth of the river Dive, between the 
Seine and the Orne. When the ships were all shepherded 
they were sent to Saint-Valery, near Dieppe. In the 
storm and rain that set in both soldiers and sailors 
saw a portent of disaster. Some of the vessels foundered 
with their crews. Dead men tell no tales, but corpses 
are not conducive to optimism. The irreligious argued 
that though the Pope had sent a banner God had sent 
a contrary wind, and the latter was the more practical 
of the two. The spiritually-minded thought only of the 

The Coming of Duke William 

wrath of the Almighty and regarded the bad weather 
as a specific warning not to interfere with one's neigh- 
bours. A certain man coveted Naboth's vineyard, 
and no good came of it. Wet without, the Duke gave 
them wet within. He plied soldiers and sailors with 
liquor, then went to church to pray for a change of 
wind. His Pater nosters and Ave Marias remained 
unanswered. The bones of St Valery, which ought 
to have made their last journey long before, were 
carted round the camp, and much precious metal 
found its way to the shrine from whence the relics 
had been removed. Good Catholics and bad were 
appeased on the following day. The weather cleared, 
and when the sun set in the crimson west the Duke 
and his followers were at sea. 

One alleged authority says the fleet was made up 
of 3,000 sailing-ships, another reduces the number 
to 400 large vessels and over 1,000 transports, a third 
gives 1,000, a fourth 696. It was evidently a con- 
siderable armament, for the men are supposed to have 
totalled 60,000. 

William's ship, the Mora presented to him by his 
wife Matilda, it is said led the van. One can assume 
from this that the picture of it on the Bayeux Tapestry 
was probably worked by that fair lady's hand, it being 
more or less generally agreed that she and her ladies 
were responsible for that wonderful historical record. 
The single mast, supporting a solitary striped sail, 
had at its head a cross of gold, and a white banner 
bordered in blue surrounding another gold cross, 
doubtless the gift of Pope Alexander II. At the prow 
was the carving of a lion's head, and at the stern that 
of a boy blowing a horn and bearing a flag. Thirteen 
shields lined the gunwale. In the needlework ships 


The Story of the British Navy 

carrying from three to eight horses apiece are also 

The Mora, being a fast sailer and probably better 
handled, drew ahead of the fleet. " I see nothing but 
sea and sky," shouted a man who was sent to the 
masthead on the following morning, whereupon the 
Duke at once ordered the ship to anchor and food and 
drink to be served. Later the look-out saw four vessels 
coming toward them, and finally reported " a forest 
of masts and sails." 

William appears to have made a precipitate landing 
at Pevensey by stumbling against a pebble or rock 
as he jumped overboard, and getting a ducking. " By 
God's splendour," he cried, not without a touch of 
dramatic wit, " I have seized England with my two 
hands," while a soldier is alleged to have given him 
a tuft of thatch from a hovel on the beach with the 
remark, " Sire, receive the seizin ; the country is 

There was no resistance to the new-comer. He 
literally " burnt his boats behind him." There was to 
be no turning back. Likewise for several years there 
was to be no navy, for what remained of Harold's 
ships had for the most part been taken to Ireland 
by his sons Godwin and Edmund. 



At Sea with the Crusaders 

The first article of an Englishman's creed must be that he 
believeth in the sea. MARQUESS OF HALIFAX, 1649 

A~iTER having been treated to the indignity 
to which he had subjected England, though 
those who came in ships and plundered the 
West Country were not so successful, and the Danes 
who ravished the North were content to be bought off, 
William I decided that the arm which had stood him 
in such stead sadly needed resurrection. To what 
extent he built ships we are unaware. All we know 
is that he invaded Scotland by land and sea, crossed 
the Channel, subdued Maine, failed in Brittany, and 
brought back from the Continent a large army. 
Moreover he levied danegeld for the purpose of placing 
himself in a position to resist the threatened invasion 
of the kings of Denmark and of Norway and the Count 
of Flanders. Huge preparations were made by the 
enemy, but, for whatever reason, they failed to mature. 
Hastings, Sandwich, Dover, Romney, and Hythe, 
to which were afterward added Winchelsea and Rye, 
may well be regarded as the cradles of the Navy. 
Some of them had already furnished men and ships 
to Alfred and Edward the Confessor. The first five 
were definitely established as the Cinque Ports in 1078, 
and in return for providing William with ships were 
granted certain privileges. For fifteen days in any 


The Story of the British Navy 

one year they were bound to supply 1,197 men and 
boys and fifty-seven ships at the expense of the towns. 
If they were retained for a longer period the cost fell 
on the king. 

William's immediate successor does not appear to 
have taken special interest in the fleet, though it is 
on record that on one occasion, despite bad weather 
and contrary wind, he insisted on putting to sea at 
once. " I never heard of a king that was shipwrecked," 
he told the sailors ; " weigh anchor, and you will see 
that the winds will be with us." 

From a naval point of view Henry I began his reign 
inauspiciously. Again invasion threatened, but instead 
of awaiting the coming of the enemy in this case 
his brother Robert, Duke of Normandy the King 
pursued the proper course by ordering his fleet out to 
intercept the oncoming squadrons. Evidently their 
sense of loyalty to the new monarch was not markedly 
developed, for many of the masters of vessels threw 
in their lot with Robert, who landed at Portsmouth 
and not at Pevensey, as had been anticipated. Although 
Henry took no personal part in the attempt to rescue 
the Holy Land from the hands of the infidels, Hardinge 
of England arrived at Joppa with some 200 ships 
when Jerusalem was besieged in 1107. 

Thirteen years later there occurred one of the most 
memorable of naval tragedies. Of all the stories in 
English history beloved by schoolboys and retained 
in after-life, that of the White Ship is assuredly one of 
the outstanding favourites. According to Orderic 
Vital, a contemporary, Thomas FitzStephen, as the 
son of the man " who conveyed your father to England 
in his own ship, when he crossed the sea to make 
war on Harold," approached Henry for the honour of 

At Sea with the Crusaders 

furnishing him passage. This would lead one to infer 
that the vessel used by William of Normandy was not 
presented by Matilda, but the matter is not of 
importance. Probably the elder seaman was the pilot, 
and nothing more. Saying that he had already chosen 
his vessel, Henry told Thomas that he could embark 
Prince William on the Blanche Nef. In a spirit of 
comradeship the young heir ordered wine to be given 
out. Unfortunately for him, the crew failed to err on 
the side of moderation. Late in getting under way, 
Vital tells us, " in his drunken folly, Thomas, confident 
of his seamanship and the skill of his crew, rashly 
boasted that he would soon leave behind him all the 
ships that had started before them. At last he gave 
the signal for departure ; the sailors seized the oars 
without a moment's delay, and, unconscious of the 
fate which was imminently impending, joyously handled 
the ropes and sails, and made the ship rush through 
the water at a great rate. But as the drunken rowers 
exerted themselves to the utmost in pulling the oars, 
and the luckless pilot steered at random and got the 
ship out of its due course, the starboard bow of the 
Blanche Nef struck violently on a huge rock, which 
is left dry, every day, when the tide is out, and is 
covered by the waves at high water. Two planks 
having been shattered out by the crash, the ship, 
alas 1 filled and went down. At this fearful moment, 
the passengers and crew raised cries of distress, but 
their mouths were soon stopped by the swelling waves, 
and all perished together, except two who seized hold 
of the yard from which the sail was set. . . . 

" Thomas, the master of this vessel, after his first 
plunge into the sea, gained fresh energy, and, re- 
covering his senses, raised his head above water, and 


The Story of the British Navy 

perceiving the two men clinging to the yard-arm, 
cried out : ' What has become of the King's son ? ' 
The shipwrecked men replied that he and all who 
were with him had perished. ' Then,' said he, ' it is 
misery for me to live any longer.' Having said this, 
he abandoned himself to his fate in utter despair, 
preferring to meet it at once, rather than to face the 
rage of the King in his indignation for the loss of his 
children, or drag out his existence and expiate his 
crime in a dungeon." 

Stephen, while he invaded Normandy, was far too 
busy with civil war for the greater part of his reign 
to give much attention to the Navy. It is to the credit 
of Henry II that he precluded the buying or selling 
of English ships to foreigners, and seamen were not 
to be induced to leave the country. With a fleet of 
400 vessels he crossed to Ireland and conquered it. 

What the passionate and persistent Henry had 
contemplated doing in the matter of the Crusades 
was reserved for Richard the Lion-hearted, who gave 
immense impetus to the maritime power of England. 
He not only made numerous rules and regulations for 
the sea-service, but issued our earliest Articles of War. 
The penalty for theft on the part of a sailor was tarring 
and feathering, and being placed on shore in that 
condition at the earliest opportunity. For striking a 
man without wounding him so that blood flowed 
the sentence was ducking thrice. The appearance of 
gore cost the assailant a hand. Murder was punished 
by the criminal being flung overboard bound to the 
corpse. The stringency of these sentences is sufficient 
to show that the mariners of the twelfth century were 
rather an unruly class and given to quarrels among 
themselves when enemies were not available. 

At Sea with the Crusaders 

The galley was still the standard pattern of warship, 
while busses with bulging sides like a wine-cask, and 
probably a single mast, were used for the transport 
of troops, munitions, and stores. Horses were conveyed 
in flat-bottomed ships called vissers. Lightly built 
snakes and small barges complete the list of types. 

To folk who have lived in the era of the Dreadnought, 
the Hood, and the submarine mounting a 12-inch gun 
Richard's craft are almost whimsically primitive. 
Yet we must not boast too much of our vaunted 
modernity. The flame-throwers and liquid fire, the 
artificial smoke-clouds and poisonous gas of the Great 
War were in use during the Crusades by Christian 
and infidel alike. These refinements of cruelty were 
less perfect in 1195 than in 1918, but they were equally 
feared and possibly even more effective. 

Liquid fire was the invention of Callinicus, of Helio- 
polis, about the seventh century. When the secret 
of its composition leaked out it was referred to as 
Greek fire. Its exact ingredients are unknown to-day, 
but it is believed that pitch, sulphur, and naphtha 
were included. Poured through a tube like water 
through a garden-hose, it ignited on exposure to the 
air, and nothing could extinguish it but vinegar or 
sand. The flame made a deep roar, dense smoke, and 
an appalling stink. Rags or tow soaked in the mixture 
were affixed to arrows. When, in the middle of the 
thirteenth century, Louis IX undertook an expedition 
to Egypt, the natives treated the army to a dose 
of this medicine with great effect. " The fire which 
they cast was as large as a tun," we are told, " with 
a. long burning tail ; its noise in the air was like thunder, 
and it seemed a flying dragon. The light it gave was 
so great, that I could see throughout the camp as 


The Story of the British Navy 

clearly as in open day. It consumed any inflammable 
body on which it fell, without a possibility of its being 
extinguished." Fireworks made of the same stuff were 
called serpents. 

From a maritime point of view the Crusades are 
particularly interesting, because so far as is known 
no English ship had hitherto penetrated the Medi- 
terranean. It is not surprising that in this pioneer 
effort some of them came to grief. The King and a 
number of his followers sailed from Dover in December 
1189, and, landing at Calais, proceeded to Marseilles 
by the overland route. The fleet concentrated at 
Dartmouth under the command of Gerard, Archbishop 
of Aix, Bernard, Bishop of Bayonne, Robert de Sabloil, 
Richard de Camville, who was an English baron, and 
William de Fortz of Oleron, and sailed at the end of the 
following April. Even allowing for calls and waiting 
for stragglers, the voyage to Marseilles took a long time, 
for it was not until August 22nd that 106 large ships 
put in at that port. Richard, tired of waiting, had gone 
on in a chartered galley called the Pumbo, and meeting 
the fleet at Scylla, proceeded to Messina. Here many 
galleys were found to be sadly in need of repair, and an 
additional force of thirty busses arrived from England. 

The Itinerarium, usually attributed to Geoffrey of 
Vinsauf , but probably the work of Richard, Canon and 
Prior of Holy Trinity, London, gives a vivid word- 
picture of the scene. 

" As soon as the people heard of his arrival," it 
notes, " they rushed in crowds to the shore to behold 
the glorious King of England, and at a distance saw the 
sea covered with innumerable galleys, and the sound 
of trumpets from afar, with the sharper and shriller 
blasts of clarions, resounded in their ears ; and they 

At Sea with the Crusaders 

beheld the galleys rowing in order nearer to the land, 
adorned and furnished with all manner of arms, count- 
less pennons floating in the wind, ensigns at the ends 
of the lances, the beaks of the galleys distinguished 
by various paintings, and glittering shields suspended 
to the prows. ..." 

When the fleet left Messina in April 1191 its strength 
had reached over 200 vessels of various kinds, several 
of which foundered in a storm a few days later. The 
ship conveying the King's sister Joanna and the 
beautiful Berengaria of Navarre, to whom Richard 
was betrothed, got separated from the others. On 
nearing Cyprus the commander determined to call 
to make inquiries. On the ladies being asked to land, 
he noticed that armed galleys were being made ready, 
and suspecting treachery, again put to sea. When 
Richard was informed of these proceedings, and in 
addition was told that the survivors of three of his 
ships which had been wrecked had been scurvily 
treated by Isaac, the ruler of the island, he was 
exceeding wrath. With some 3,000 men in galleys 
and snakes he landed at Lymesol and captured the 
place. As part of the price of peace Isaac agreed to 
serve under Richard in the Holy War with 500 knights 
and to pay 20,000 gold marks. Isaac broke the com- 
pact and, escaping from prison, sought refuge in the 
interior. The fleet was immediately ordered to patrol 
the island and capture every vessel sighted while the 
army searched. Isaac surrendered, and Cyprus became 
England's most distant possession. 

Continuing its voyage eastward, the fleet had its 
first sea-fight. So great was the enemy vessel that 
Richard of Devizes refers to it as " a ship than which, 
except Noah's ship, none greater was ever read of ! " 


The Story of the British Navy 

She was apparently a very large buss with three masts, 
and among other weapons of destruction had a plentiful 
supply of Greek fire. After promising his men that if 
they captured her the booty on board should be theirs, 
Richard attacked the vessel with much determination, 
but owing to the height of her sides and the advantage 
her crew possessed in being able to hurl missiles down 
instead of up, the English seamen, finding they could 
make no headway, began to slacken. " Know that 
if this ship escape," Richard cried, " every one of you 
shall be hung on the cross or put to extreme torture." 
At length some succeeded in clambering up her sides 
and boarding her, only to be hurled back when it seemed 
that she was on the point of surrendering. As a last 
resort Richard ordered his galleys to ram. The iron 
spurs fixed to the bows won the day. Plank after plank 
was stove in, and " it sanke son in the se." The 
contemporary statement that she had 1,500 Turks 
on board cannot be other than a gross exaggeration, 
though it is possible that she may have had several 
hundred. All with the exception of fifty-five were killed, 
drowned, or massacred. 

Following the lines of Admiral Mahan, a fascinating 
book might be written on the influence of religion on 
commerce. The idea may seem to strike a jarring note, 
but the two have been curiously intermixed at various 
times. The Crusades gave a mighty impetus to English 
shipbuilding, with the inevitable corollary of an 
expansion of trade. Many of the Mediterranean war- 
ships were provided with castles at bow and stern, 
in addition to a fighting-top. A predecessor of Captain 
Cuttle made a note of these features, which were 
subsequently introduced into English vessels. During 
this period there was virtually no distinction between 

At Sea with the Crusaders 

the Mercantile Marine and the Navy proper. Each 
fought in war and traded in peace. The armed auxi- 
liaries of 1914-18 were merely reversions to type. 

Note the track of Richard. An eastward-bound 
P. & O. liner is following it as you read, penetrating 
the Straits, skirting the Balearic Islands, putting in 
at Marseilles, thence passing between Corsica and 
Sardinia, and through the Straits of Messina that 
wash the toe of Italy. The steamer will go direct to 
Alexandria or Port Said. The Crusaders of yesteryear 
steered a more northerly course, skirting the Grecian 
side of Crete, and from thence to Rhodes and Acre. 

The great commercial expansion that followed the 
Crusades is told in a series of purple patches by 
Matthew of Westminster. " The Pisans, Genoese, 
and Venetians," he tells us, " supply England with the 
Eastern gems, as saphires, emeralds, and carbuncles ; 
from Asia was brought the rich silks and purples ; from 
Africa the cinnamon and balm ; from Spain the kingdom 
was enriched with gold ; with silVer from Germany ; 
from Flanders came the rich materials for the garments 
of the people ; while plentiful streams of wine flowed 
from their own province of Gascoigny ; joined with 
everything that was rich and pretious from every land, 
wide stretching from the Hyades to the Arcturian Star." 

Venice, however, was then the paramount sea- 
Power of the world. Her citizens profited mightily 
by Crusades and pilgrimages, exacting their pound 
of flesh, starting trading-stations in the East, exporting 
the religious, and importing Eastern products. Carrack 
and caravel dominated the Adriatic, colonies came 
into being in Crete, Cyprus, the Morea, and the ^Egean 
islands. The Latin Empire of Constantinople was 
founded with their help. 



A Good Word for King John 

Ifs half the battle gained to take the offensive. 


JOHN is perhaps the king for whom the average 
reader entertains the least respect. His character 
is summed up by a great modern historian as 
" tyrannical, treacherous, petulant, passionate, in- 
famous in all his private relations, careless of all his 
public duties." Yet it was during his reign that England 
had her first really important victory at sea, and he 
certainly increased the fleet. 

In 1213 Philip Augustus of France was making 
mighty preparations for the invasion of England. 
Every acre of land in France that the Plantagenets 
had formerly held had been torn from John, and as the 
Pope had excommunicated him it was not surprising 
that Philip believed the majority of the English king's 
subjects would welcome relief from the hard taskmaster 
who ruled them. 

The situation was saved by the energy of William 
of the Long Sword, Earl of Salisbury. Appreciating 
that the coast of the enemy was the frontier of 
England, and that the one who gets his blow in first 
has done much to secure ultimate victory, he deter- 
mined to surprise Philip's flotilla before it sailed. 
He held no brief for the theory of stopping at home tc 
resist attack, but was all for the offensive. What if 

A Good Word for King John 

the enemy did have three times the number of ships ? 
To him it mattered little provided he could slip across 
the North Sea without being observed. 

Philip's fleet is said to have consisted of 1,700 vessels, 
which is probably an exaggeration, while those at the 
disposal of the English commander numbered some 
500. The former were mostly anchored in the roadstead 
of Damme, the seaport of Bruges, while others were 
in the harbour, distributed along the coast, or pulled 
up on the beach. 

Many of the sailors were on shore, which is sufficient 
to prove that the Earl had not been sighted while at 
sea and the news of his approach conveyed to Philip's 
commander. Those who were on board put up a good 
fight, but it did not prevent William from capturing 
300 vessels. Craft on shore were rifled of their contents 
and set on fire. Proceeding to the harbour, William 
led his men to attack the remaining ships. So great 
was the onslaught that the French abandoned hope, 
and jumping into the water, swam for safety out of the 
reach of the English archers. 

" Those Frenchmen that were gone into the 
country," Holinshed tells us, " perceiving that their 
enemies were come by the running away of the 
mariners, returned with all speed to their ships to aid 
their fellows, and so make valiant resistance for a time, 
till the Englishmen, getting on land and ranging 
themselves on either side of the haven, beat the 
Frenchmen on both sides ; and the ships being grappled 
together in front, they fought on the decks as it had 
been in a pitched field, till that finally the Frenchmen 
were not able to sustain the force of the Englishmen, 
but were constrained, after long fighting and great 
slaughter, to yield themselves prisoners." 


The Story of the British Navy 

Damme was set on fire, but an attack on Bruges, 
which was made to secure further ships, was not 
successful, and the naval victors were forced to retire 
to their fleet, leaving 2,000 of their comrades dead. 
The projected invasion never took place. Indeed, 
Philip felt such keen humiliation that in a burst of 
foolish anger he ordered what vessels remained to be 
set on fire. 

An interesting seal in the British Museum is that 
of the old Flemish seaport which gave its name to the 
battle. It is dated only four years before, and represents 
one of the types of ship that must have fought against 
the English in 1213. It is a single-masted vessel with 
a castle in fore and stern, from each of which a warrior 
is supporting a huge standard. She has a schooner 
bow and a raking bowsprit, while the rudder occupies 
a position similar to that of modern ships. The vessel 
of Damme is a signal departure from the viking ship. 
A century was to pass before the latter adopted the 
new method of steering. 

Although John signed Magna Carta in 1215, he 
speedily showed that he had not the remotest intention 
of carrying out its tenets. Many of the barons there- 
upon negotiated with Prince Louis of France, Philip's 
eldest son, and again active preparations were made for 
invasion. Louis chose as his commander Eustace the 
Monk, who had forsaken cloistered ease for the more 
exciting life of a pirate, and after having served John 
for some little while had turned traitor and attacked 
Sandwich, Ryde, and Hastings, among other places. 
He was a formidable antagonist, but opposed to him 
was Hubert de Burgh, a warrior who proved worthy 
of his steel. 

Sending a small fleet and a first detachment of his 

A Good Word for King John 

army to London in February 1216, Louis started 
from Calais with some 680 vessels. The stalwarts of 
the Cinque Ports were ready to meet them, and would 
doubtless have fought with their accustomed tenacity 
had not a storm scattered the French fleet. Even then 
they managed to cut off and capture some of the 
vessels. When the gale was over Louis's ships re-formed 
and landed the soldiers at Sandwich. 

John had marched with his army to Dover, but when 
he was aware of the landing of the French he retreated 
as rapidly as possible to Bristol. Rochester Castle 
was besieged and captured by Louis ; London received 
him with enthusiasm. So far so good, but Dover, the 
key of England, was in Hubert de Burgh's keeping, 
and until it was wrested from him the Prince's lines 
of communication were anything but safe. 

Despite the use of a formidable engine of war 
known as a malvoisin literally ' bad neighbour ' 
Louis could make no impression on the fortress. He 
lost so many men in the attempt that after a few weeks 
he came to the conclusion that the only means of 
reducing the garrison was by famine. The barons 
who had thrown off their allegiance to John joined 
him, but " all the King's horses and all the King's 
men " could not shake Hubert. Louis was equally 
stubborn, but failed to recognize that he was wasting 
precious time. Not only did he forfeit the goodwill 
of some of the barons and many of the people, but 
John established his headquarters at Lincoln and 
secured the valuable support of the seamen. In 
addition, the Prince proved in many ways that the 
substitution of Louis for John would mean the 
perpetuation of tyranny. Thanks to his own foolish 
policy, the stubbornness of Hubert de Burgh, and the 


The Story of the British Navy 

frequent capture of supplies by the men who held the 
sea, the French prince made but sorry progress. 

Louis returned to France to recruit his depleted 
forces, but John's unexpected death and the liberal 
measures promulgated by the Earl of Pembroke, 
who became guardian of the kingdom and foster-father 
of the boy-king Henry III, undermined the allegiance 
of some at least of the renegade barons. At Lincoln 
the French were totally defeated, and Louis retreated 
from Dover to London, the stronghold of his party. 

Once more Eustace the Monk crosses the stage of 
History. Eighty large vessels and many smaller ships 
were placed under his command to convey succour to 
Louis. It was Hubert's opportunity also. 

The latter appealed to the Bishop of Winchester 
and his knights for help. " We are not soldiers of the 
sea," was the reply, " nor maritime adventurers, 
nor fishermen ; but do thou go to thy death." The 
gallant men of the Cinque Ports made an answer worthy 
of them : " Let us take our souls in our hands and meet 
him while he is at sea, and help will come to us from 
on high." The loyal garrison of Dover Castle swore 
that they would never surrender, and Hubert stepped 
with a light heart into the ship awaiting him. He 
would attack the enemy before they reached the 

Hubert de Burgh showed by his manoeuvres that 
he was a tactician of no mean order. When Eustace 
saw the English ships standing over to Calais he waxed 
merry at the thought of the warm reception that would 
be accorded them. Hubert was merely sailing in that 
direction to secure the windward position that would 
enable him to attack when he wished. Turning together, 
the English fleet bounded forward, in line abreast 

A Good Word for King John 

like a squadron of cavalry charging, and boldly 
attacked the French rear. Clothyard shafts and bolts 
from crossbows found their billets among the crowded 
soldiers and seamen. Then they came closer, finally 
closed, and the men of the Cinque Ports, throwing 
quicklime at the moment of boarding, were at death- 
grips with Louis's reinforcements. Axes and swords 
were not used sparingly in the meUe that followed. 
Some of the mariners, armed with scythes on poles, 
hacked at the rigging. No quarter was given, though 
it was asked. In those times an enemy's life was some- 
times spared by payment of a heavy ransom ; not so 
on this day of days in 1217. 

" If these people land, England is lost ; let us there- 
fore boldly meet them, for God is with us, and they are 
excommunicate." Thus Hubert de Burgh, Justiciary 
and Governor, before the expedition had left, and his 
words were not forgotten. Eustace the Monk was 
discovered, and offered a fortune to his captor. He 
spoke to the wrong man, for he who confronted him 
was an illegitimate son of King John. If the latter 
had no great reverence for his father's memory, he had 
certainly no use for so treacherous a foe. " Base 
traitor ! " he cried. " Never again will you seduce 
men by your false promises ! " He raised his sword, 
and when it descended it dripped with blood as the 
headless trunk of the erstwhile monk rolled over. 

Throughout the remaining pages of this volume you 
will read of admirals manoeuvring to secure the weather- 
gauge a goodly company who owed much to the master- 
mind of Hubert de Burgh, fighter on land and sea. 

Within a month of the battle of Dover peace was 
signed, and Louis and his soldiers left the land they 
had sought to conquer. 


The Story of the British Navy 

Throughout Henry's long reign the Navy was kept 
mighty busy. Time after time orders were given to 
the stalwarts of the Cinque Ports to make ready or 
to sail. On one occasion the largest army ever raised 
in England up to that time was gathered in and about 
Portsmouth, only to find that means of transport was 
woefully deficient. Hubert de Burgh, then Earl of 
Kent, was held responsible for this lamentable lack of 
accommodation ; the King called him an old traitor 
to his face. Evidently a bold and successful attempt 
to make up for lost time was made, for when the 
expedition sailed nearly 200 ships were left behind 
because they were not wanted. This strength was 
not maintained. Thirteen years later the Archbishop 
of York felt compelled to advise the King to leave the 
Continent and return to England. The bold measures 
taken by the French and the depredations of pirates 
roaming the Channel actually wrung from the barons 
of the Cinque Ports the humiliating confession that 
the French were the stronger. Hastings, Winchelsea, 
Rye, Romney, Hythe, Dover, Sandwich, and neigh- 
bouring villages " which pertaineth " were called upon 
to provide fifty-seven ships, 1,140 men, and fifty-seven 
boys. During the civil war of 1263-4 the hardy mariners 
of these ports ran amok by capturing every vessel 
they could, whether English or foreign, murdering 
crews and passengers, and helping themselves to 
whatever cargo was to be found. So far-reaching were 
their misdeeds that the prices of many commodities 
from the Continent rose very considerably. 

In these days, when the rights of neutrals real or 
alleged are so much respected, it makes strange 
reading to learn that on occasion Henry III had no 
compunction in commandeering any foreign vessels 

A Good Word for King John 

he required for his own service. Although several 
new names appear for various types of ships, no marked 
change in their general build is evident, though cabins 
were introduced. Privateering was indulged in, for 
which licences were granted " to annoy our enemies 
by sea or by land wheresoever they are able, so that 
they share with us half of all their gain. ..." 

During the reign of Edward I two expeditions 
against Wales were undertaken by sea, and the fleet 
was used for the conflict with Scotland, but by far the 
most interesting naval transaction was a private war 
waged by some of the mariners of the south of England 
and the French. After a number of fights which failed 
to appease either side, a pitched battle was arranged 
to take place at a certain spot in the Channel. While 
the English could only man some sixty ships and the 
opposing side mustered three times that number, 
the latter was badly defeated. A few years later, when 
at Sluys assisting the Count of Flanders, the King 
totally failed to prevent the men of the Cinque Ports 
and of Yarmouth from quarrelling among themselves, 
as a result of which it is said the East Anglians lost 
over twenty ships. 

Although the King reorganized the dispositions of 
the Navy by dividing the fleet into squadrons based 
on Yarmouth for the east and Portsmouth for the south, 
in addition to ships for the safeguarding of the west 
coast and Ireland, it was at Portsmouth that he con- 
centrated craft preparatory to foreign service. Over 
fifty English and Irish towns were called upon to 
provide from one to three vessels, and the Cinque 
Ports fifty-seven. Gascony having been seized by 
Philip in satisfaction for the private war men- 
tioned above, extensive preparations were made and 


The Story of the British Navy 

accommodation found for 500 men-at-arms and 20,000 
foot-soldiers to cross to France. Castellion and St 
Macau surrendered, but Bordeaux did not, and Charles 
of Valois, the French King's brother, more than held his 
own. A raid made upon Dover ended with the town's 
being set on fire, and the loss of considerably more men 
than the defenders, which was to be expected, though 
5,000 dead out of 15,000 is certainly a large proportion. 

No great sea-fight characterized the reign of Edward 
II, though the Navy was almost constantly employed 
in his warfare with the Scots, the Irish, and the French. 
Probably the largest English ship of his time did not 
exceed 240 tons. During his luckless occupation of 
the throne the title Chief Admiral was introduced, 
that of Admiral having been first used in this country 
by Edward I. Its holder was Sir William Leybourne, 
and Gervase Alard was styled ' Admiral of the fleet 
of the Cinque Ports.' 

Two of the several contributing causes of the 
Hundred Years War were maritime and commercial. 
English and French seamen were striving for control 
of the Channel ; similar rivalry existed for the in- 
creasing wool-trade in Flanders. At first Edward III 
was content to allow his allies to do most of the 
land-fighting, the nation he represented finding the 
necessary funds. When the English seriously entered 
the war in 1340 they started with an overwhelming 
victory that completely settled the question of the 
control of the Channel. What had been done at Damme 
was repeated at Sluys ; Hubert de Burgh's faith in 
the offensive was also the belief of Edward III. The 
burning of Portsmouth and an attack on Southampton 
in 1338 had been rude reminders of the fact that an 
island is defenceless unless it have command of the 

A Good Word for King John 

sea. Retaliation followed an attempt on Rye in July 
1339, the enemy being chased into Boulogne and part 
of the town set on fire, while a dozen captains were 
hanged and several prizes secured. 

We are told that " pride goeth before a fall." In 
the following September the French ships were 
gathered in the Sluys (Swyn), their crews boasting 
that they would capture five hundred English towns 
and one hundred English ships before they returned 
home. Some of them put to sea with the object of 
achieving part at least of their ambition, but they en- 
countered a violent storm which worked havoc, and 
those which survived were glad enough to welcome 
the low-lying coast of Flanders as a substitute for the 
chalk cliffs of England. 

Accompanied by some 200 vessels, the King sailed 
on June 22, 1340, for Blankenberghe, where he was 
joined by about fifty more ships. Apparently his force 
was superior in numbers, for according to Edward's 
own statement the enemy's total was 190, though some 
of their vessels were superior in size to those under 
his command, and included several that had formerly 
belonged to the English Navy. When reconnoitred 
from the sandhills by knights who had been put on 
shore for the purpose, the ships were chained together 
in three divisions. Among the commanders was the 
Genoese admiral Barbenoire. 

Some hours later the enemy fleet dropped down the 
river and took up stations nearer the entrance. This 
disposition was undoubtedly bad. Following an old 
practice, the ships faced the attackers bow to bow, 
making boarding exceedingly difficult, provided a 
frontal attack was the only available method. Had 
the flanks been protected by shore or shoal, the 


The Story of the British Navy 

arrangement would have been satisfactory, but in 
this case the attacking ships had sufficient room to 
manoeuvre at high tide. An opportunity was thus 
afforded Edward to crumple up one of the wings and 
then to move along the whole line and destroy it in 
detail, for neither centre nor opposite wing could render 
assistance to the portion attacked unless the vessels 
managed to slip the cables and chains that secured 
them to each other. 

It was not until the 24th, apparently by reason 
of wind and tide, that the English were able to attack. 
Edward's largest ships, in which archers were disposed 
in liberal numbers, were stationed in the van, and 
between each was a smaller vessel containing men-at- 
arms. A second division was held in reserve. Soldiers 
were in the fighting-tops of the units of the French 
fleet with an ample supply of ammunition, including 
such formidable material as stones and lumps of iron. 

In order to gain the wind and prevent the sun from 
blinding his men, the King's first movement was on 
a tack away from the enemy. " They take care of them- 
selves and run away, for they are not the fellows to 
fight with us," some one remarked in the French fleet. 
Both suggestions were entirely wrong. 

It was a different story when Edward had carried 
out his manoeuvre. The English bore down on the 
left wing of their adversaries, and speedily showed 
when they came to close quarters that they meant 
serious business. They flung out their grappling irons, 
lashed themselves to the nearest enemy vessel, and 
before all was secure the men-at-arms were at death- 
grips with Normans, Picards, and Genoese. No quarter 
was given ; no quarter was asked. Stones, arrows, 
hatchets, lances, and swords exacted death on both 

A Good Word for King John 

sides ; friend and foe fought with dogged tenacity. 
It is stated that one ship alone was laden with four 
hundred dead men when the conflict was over. The 
Christopher, an English ship which had been taken 
by the French some time before, was recaptured, 
hastily manned by English bowmen and mariners, 
and turned against her possessors of a few minutes 
earlier. Other vessels were taken prizes. The French 
van was utterly defeated. 

All heart was taken out of the foe. Twenty-four 
vessels under Barbenoire managed to escape, though 
some were subsequently captured or wrecked. The 
second and third lines were less fortunate. Those of 
their companies who got into the boats when all idea 
of resistance was abandoned were drowned owing to 

The following is a portion of Edward's letter to his 
son, " the earliest dispatch containing an account 
of a naval victory in existence," as Sir Harris Nicolas 
asserts : 

" And we have you to know, that the number of 
ships, galleys, and great barges of our enemies 
amounted to one hundred and ninety, which were 
all taken except twenty-four in all, which fled, and 
some of them were since taken at sea ; and the number 
of men-at-arms and other armed people amounted 
to thirty-five thousand, of which number, by estimation, 
five thousand escaped, and the remainder as we are 
given to understand by some persons who are taken 
alive, lie dead in many places on the coast of Flanders. 
On the other hand, all our ships, that is to say, the 
Christopher, and the others which were lost at 
Middleburgh, are now retaken, and there are taken in 
this fleet three or four as large as the Christopher" 


The Story of the British Navy 

It is said that there was none willing to tell Philippe 
de Valois of the disaster which had overcome the 
ships that were to have captured a hundred English 
vessels and five hundred towns. At last the King's 
fool was persuaded to broach the subject. This he did 
in a characteristic way by talking about the lack of 
bravery on the part of the enemy. Asked the reason 
for it, the fool replied that they were cowards " and 
dare not leap into the sea, as our gentlemen of 
Normandy and France did." The English losses were 
comparatively slight. 

The English had repeated the successful manoeuvre 
of Hubert de Burgh ; we shall see the French repeating 
their error at the battle of the Nile four centuries 
later. 1 

It was in " our ship-cog Thomas," in which he had 
fought at Sluys, that Edward embarked at Winchelsea 
ten years afterward for a further deed of naval prowess. 
Spain was already a growing power at sea, and although 
piracy was certainly not confined to that country, 
some of the Basque traders who had commercial 
dealings with Flanders had rather overstepped the 
mark by capturing several English ships and killing 
their crews. According to Edward, the Spanish had 
also threatened to destroy English shipping and secure 
absolute supremacy of the narrow seas. This vain 
and open boasting, so reminiscent of the French 
previous to Sluys, was to avail them nought in the day 
of reckoning. 

It was the custom of the Spaniards to take a fleet 
of merchandise to Flanders in spring, dispose of the 

1 The sea is now a couple of miles from Sluys, and a canal and 
light railway run between the town and Bruges, some twelve miles 
distant. For its connexion with the Armada see post, p. 101. 

A Good Word for King John 

cargoes, and return with other goods to their home 
ports during summer. Early in May 1350 the King 
ordered various ships to be made ready. He would 
teach these freebooters a lesson. The news found its 
way across the North Sea, with the result that Don 
Carlos de la Cerda sent to Antwerp and hired a body of 
adventurers only too willing to risk their necks at sea 
for gold and booty. These men were well armed, and 
the Spanish commander felt confident that should the 
English fleet appear it would receive a warm reception. 

Edward was in no hurry ; on the other hand he was 
not disposed to let his quarry give him the slip. Com- 
mending his cause to the God of Battles, he proceeded 
to Winchelsea Abbey with a brilliant retinue, and 
waited. His ships were ready for the fray, and every 
day he waited for the coming of the Spaniards. There 
was much merry-making, some drinking of the wine 
that maketh glad the heart of man, and considerable 
music from the minstrels. It was gay preparation 
for grim business, but perhaps they fought the better 
for it. Aloft, look-out men were on the watch ; below, 
monarch and knights abandoned themselves to amuse- 

It was Sunday, a favourite day for fights, the precise 
date August 29th, time 4 p.m. or thereabouts. Those 
on deck scanned the horizon now and again and were 
rewarded by a line of blue and nothing more. Suddenly 
a voice made itself heard above the hubbub. " Ho ! 
I see something coming, which seems to be a Spanish 
ship. I see one, two, three, four I see so many, so 
help me God, I cannot count them ! " A final bumper 
of wine was ordered by his Majesty, anchors were 
weighed, and German dances forgotten for more serious 


The Story of the British Navy 

There was picturesqueness and pageantry enough 
as the line of the enemy bore down upon them. 
Streamers and embroidered banners gave colour to 
the scene, the tops were crowded with fighting-men, 
and the sails bellowed to the north-east wind. Most 
of the oncoming vessels were larger than those that were 
sailing to oppose them, " like as castles to cottages," 
according to Stow, but Edward set a splendid example 
to his followers by boldly telling the helmsman of 
his ship-cog Thomas to lay him against a big Spaniard 
in the van, " for I wish to joust with him." The two 
crashed, bringing down one of the masts of the enemy 
and drowning all in the top. The violence of the collision 
opened some of the seams of the Thomas, necessitating 
much baling, but the monarch was for boarding. 
" Grapple my ship to that," he commanded, " for I 
wish to have her." The Spaniard, still carrying a 
press of sail, passed on. " Let her go," one of his 
courtiers replied ; " you shall have a better." He spoke 
truth. The tackle gripped the next ship, and his men 
had scarcely succeeded in getting the upper hand 
before it became obvious that if the Thomas were not 
abandoned she would sink with all hands. She was 
leaking like a sieve, and the men previously available 
to keep the water in check had other work to do. No 
humanity was shown to the survivors on the prize. 
They were seized and flung overboard. 

The Black Prince's ship fared even worse than that 
of his father. Unable to clamber on board their larger 
adversary, there seemed every likelihood of the whole 
company going to the bottom, when the Earl of Derby 
came up and fought the enemy to a standstill. The 
same rough treatment was meted out to the Spaniards 
when they could resist no longer. The crew of the 

A Good Word for King John 

English ship barely escaped with their lives. Scarcely 
had the last man made good his foothold on the tall 
sides of the vanquished foe than the vessel he had 
just left foundered. 

Perhaps the toughest fight of all was put up by the 
ship singled out for attack by Sir Robert de Namur 
in Le Salle du Roi. This gallant Flemish noble, who 
had enlisted in Edward's cause, made little or no 
headway, and to further complicate matters, the enemy 
was carrying his ship along with him. Despite shouts 
from the crew, no attempt was made at rescue by other 
vessels, either because dusk had fallen and their des- 
perate straits were not recognized, or opportunity of 
doing so was withheld. Eventually Hanekin, Robert's 
squire, managed to cut the enemy's halyards. There 
was a short, sharp fight as the Englishmen hacked 
their way on board, and more Spaniards made holes 
in the water. 

Thus the battle of Les Espagnols sur Mer was waged. 
At the end of the day seventeen Spanish ships had 
struck. As Froissart says, the fight had " given the 
King of England and his people plenty to do." There 
is no record of Edward's losses. 

On this August day " Old John of Gaunt, time- 
honoured Lancaster," then ten years of age, had his 
first taste of battle. He lived to be one of the preux 
chevaliers of his time and generation, and it may well 
be that the sights and scenes he witnessed off 
Winchelsea had more than a little to do with the 
formation of his acknowledged nobility of character. 

Unfortunately in the last of the naval fights of 
this reign, also against the Spanish, a squadron was 
totally defeated off Rochelle. One ship was sunk, 
and the others an uncertain quantity were captured. 


The Story of the British Navy 

The loss of Guienne followed, and whatever prestige 
England had on the sea rapidly declined. Without be- 
grudging the money voted for the Navy, the Commons 
sorrowfully recorded that " twenty years since, and 
always before that time, the navy of the realm was so 
noble and so plentiful in all ports, maritime towns, 
and rivers, that the whole country deemed and called 
our Lord ' King of the Sea,' and he and all his* country 
were the more dreaded both by sea and land on 
account of the said navy. And now it was so decreased 
and weakened from divers causes, that there was 
hardly sufficient to defend the country in case of need 
against royal power, whence there was great danger 
to the realm, the causes of which were too long to 
write ; but the principal reason was that in time of 
war ships were often arrested a quarter of a year or 
more before they left the ports, without payment 
of the wages of the mariners during the whole of that 
time, or any remuneration being made to the owners 
of the ships for their equipment and expenses ; of which 
they prayed a suitable remedy, as an act of charity." 

Although Edward replied that it was " his pleasure 
that the navy should be maintained and kept with the 
greatest ease and advantage that could be," this pious 
hope was not fulfilled. England sadly deteriorated at 
sea, even allowed twenty-eight large merchant-ships 
and eight smaller vessels to be captured and burnt by 
the Spanish without bringing the miscreants to task. 

During this long reign of fifty years a primitive form 
of compass was used. Guns and gunpower now 
formed part of the equipment of larger vessels, while 
castles were fitted fore and aft, as well as a miniature 
' fighting-top ' on the mast. In merchant-ships the 
latter was not a permanent structure. 


The Age of Discovery 

He knew wel alle the havens as they were 
Fro Gotland to the Cape de Finistere, 
And every creke in Bretagne and in Spaine : 
His barge ycleped was the Magdelaine. 


ON the first meeting of Parliament after the 
accession of Richard II the attention of the 
King was called to the grievous state of the 
Navy. Exactly twelve months afterward the burnings 
of the enemy on the coast was stated to be one of the 
main causes of the poverty everywhere evident, as 
four years later rebellion was attributed to lack of 
protection at sea, notwithstanding the voting of large 
sums for the purpose. There was cause enough for 
grumbling. Within a short time of the death of 
Edward III Rye had been plundered and burnt, the 
Isle of Wight ravaged, and Winchelsea attacked. 
Rye and Winchelsea retaliated by crossing the Channel 
and sacking a Norman town. The faithful Commons 
then requested that as nothing had been done they 
might be released from the subsidy already granted. 
This the monarch refused, but promised that all the 
money should be used for the purpose for which it 
was intended. 

After the truce of 1384-5 the Navy achieved so 
little, despite a threatened invasion by France, that 
a handful of men of Portsmouth and Dartmouth took 


The Story of the British Navy 

the matter into their own hands, and captured or sank 
eight of the enemy's ships. Despite a bold attempt to 
besiege Brest, the idea had to be relinquished because 
the Duke of Lancaster found that it would take him a 
longer time than he anticipated. When the colossal 
preparations of Charles VI for the invasion of Eng- 
land were abandoned after one or two unsuccessful 
attempts to cross, it is not surprising that the people 
took up the cry of the faithful Commons. Froissart 
tells us that they asked what had become of the great 
enterprises and valiant men of England. " There is 
only a child for a king in France," they avowed, " and 
yet he gives us more to do than ever his predecessors 
had done." At last a number of vessels were got 
together, and they intercepted a Flemish fleet of about 
a hundred ships laden with wine, of which it is said 
that eighty were captured after a prolonged fight, 
but little else of importance was accomplished. 

As "a work of charity and for the maintenance 
and increase of the navy of England " it was enacted 
that " all merchants of the realm of England shall 
freight in the said realm the ships of the said realm, 
and not foreign ships, so that the owners of the said 
ships may take reasonably for the freight of the same." 
This measure was the prototype of the Navigation 
Laws, about which something will be said in a later 

Despite the fact that officially a truce existed between 
England and France, the sailors of the two nations 
were constantly fighting when opportunity offered. 
Each side called the other " pirates," probably with 
equal truth. Captures were made off the French coast ; 
freebooting was prevalent off that of England. Ply- 
mouth was burnt a.nd pillaged, for which retribution was 

The Age of Discovery 

exacted in Brittany by setting the town of St Matthew 
on fire and making prize of a number of ships laden 
with wine and other useful commodities. Landing in 
the Isle of Wight, the French met with so warm a 
reception that they thought it expedient to re-embark 
and leave their plunder behind. It is even stated 
that the hardy folk of the Wight, when again visited, 
offered to allow the invaders to land for six hours 
in order to get into proper trim and to fight them 
afterward. This sporting proposition was not accepted. 
The Navy under Admiral Lord Berkeley harried 
Brittany and Picardy ; the .Bretons under Sir William 
du Chatel attacked Dartmouth and were defeated. 
Vengeance for Sir William's death was taken a few 
weeks later, when the deceased warrior's brother sacked 
the town and burnt it almost to the ground. The 
commander then cruised about the coast for a couple 
of months, meeting little or no opposition, and after 
having filled his ships to repletion with whatever 
he deemed useful, returned to his home port. Sir 
Thomas of Lancaster, the King's second son, repaid 
the French in their own coin by burning a large 
number of towns and villages, including La Hogue and 

The naval munitions of this period included guns, 
powder, stone shot, tampons (probably wads), bows 
and arrows, pavises, touches, and fire-pans. 

A curious experiment was tried during the last 
decade of Henry IV. Merchants and shipowners under- 
took to guard the sea on certain terms, including the 
payment of subsidies, the retention of prizes, and the 
nomination of their own admirals. Captures were 
certainly made, but at the end of about seventeen 
months the royal authority was resumed. 


The Story of the British Navy 

Henry V did something more than revive the 
Hundred Years War. He stood for, and created, a 
strong navy. When, within four years of his accession, 
he determined on one of his several expeditions to 
Normandy, no fewer than 1,500 vessels of various 
kinds were concentrated for service at Southampton. 
The vast majority of these were not the King's ships, 
of course, but craft belonging to merchants and the 
Cinque Ports. Included in the Navy proper were 
three two-masted carracks, one of which, called the 
Mary of the Tower, was of 500 tons, while its comple- 
ment consisted of eighty-eight sailors, sixty-three 
lances, and 132 archers. Some of the vessels were 
gorgeously painted and decorated, red being a favourite 
colour, with figures at the head and stern. Arms were 
frequently emblazoned on the sails. Guns were of 
iron and brass, with iron and stone shot. 

In 1415 Henry laid siege to Harfleur, the fleet 
blockading the port. Chains, stakes, and tree-trunks 
precluded the ships from entering the harbour, but on 
several occasions the French squadron emerged from 
its hiding-place and was driven back. After holding 
out for five weeks the town surrendered, and in the 
following month Agincourt was fought and won. 

The spring of 1416 saw the French endeavouring 
to recover their lost port, and investing the place with 
a large army and fleet. The English Navy was 
evidently not in a fit condition at the time to make 
its influence felt, and as a result the enemy reigned 
supreme in the Channel, doing irretrievable damage 
to shipping. An attempt to destroy the King's ships 
at Southampton was thwarted, but considerable 
damage was done on the Isle of Portland, where many 
houses were set on fire. Following the blockade of 

The Age of Discovery 

Portsmouth and an attempt on the Isle of Wight, 
an expedition set out for France and arrived at the 
mouth of the Seine. From the eight Genoese carracks 
which the enemy had hired huge stones and lumps of 
lead were hurled at the lower English vessels, but such 
was the tenacity of their opponents that three " caracks 
horrible great and stoute " were captured, in addition 
to a large number of smaller craft. Two other large 
ships were wrecked, and the Black Hulk of Flanders 
was sunk. 

Less than a year afterward the French were again 
defeated at sea under the leadership of the Earl of 
Huntingdon. On this occasion one of the obvious 
disadvantages of the platform forecastle was prac- 
tically demonstrated. Either in an attempt to board 
or to ram several of the structures were torn away 
and their occupants flung into the water. On this 
occasion four carracks were taken prizes. A few days 
later Henry sailed for Normandy, accompanied by a 
numerous fleet of fighting-ships and transports, includ- 
ing 117 furnished by Holland, which was only four less 
than the total number in the round-up of English 

The naval events of the next four kings are neither 
important nor interesting. During the inglorious 
years of Henry VI Warwick the King-maker met a 
fleet of Genoese and Liibeck ships with cargoes of 
Spanish merchandise passing down the Channel under 
convoy. After a severe fight five sail were captured 
and taken into Calais. In 1475 Edward IV sailed with 
a powerful force for Calais to combine with Charles of 
Burgundy for the crushing of King Louis, but as his 
ally was not ready the English King, to the intense 
disgust of his followers, pocketed a handsome tribute 


The Story of the British Navy 

for the privilege of peace and negotiated the usual 
matrimonial alliance. His successor only reigned a 
couple of months. Richard III, haunted by the fear of 
invasion as well as by much else, depleted the treasury 
in an attempt to render the island impregnable. The 
Earl of Richmond's expedition was driven off the coast, 
and considering himself safe, Richard foolishly reduced 
his armament. With a small force Richmond landed 
at Milford Haven, and marching to Bosworth, met 
and defeated the erstwhile Lord High Admiral. 

The reliance of the Crown on the Mercantile Marine 
is abundantly evident when one glances at the list of 
vessels belonging to the Navy of Henry VII. So far as 
it is known only seven were added to the five already 
available ; a dozen in all. Of the vessels which he 
inherited, seven passed out of the service. The heaviest 
armed in the number of weapons at any rate was 
the Regent, built in 1487, which totalled 225, its closest 
rival being the Sovereign of 141, which took the water 
in the same year. Although Henry VI had given a 
subsidy for new merchant-ships likely to prove useful 
to the Navy, it was the seventh English monarch of 
that name who really made the first serious attempt 
to meet obligations incurred in this respect. 

It must be remembered that in this period of easy 
virtue at sea practically every vessel of any size was 
armed, and was therefore a useful auxiliary. When 
used for military purposes the rate of hire was one 
shilling per ton per month. In those days of the press- 
gang there was no fixity of tenure for those who longed 
for a life on the ocean wave and joined the Navy 
voluntarily. The pay was usually one shilling and 
three pence a week while the ship was at sea, and 
one shilling when in harbour. They had cold comfort, 

The Age of Discovery 

for the crew slept on deck, although the soldier-captain 
and the master each had a cabin. All guns were 
invariably placed on the upper deck and pointed over 
the side or gun-wall hence ' gunwale.' Of these the 
breech-loading serpentine was the largest. Its charge 
was about five ounces of gunpowder, and it hurled a 
ball of about the same weight to a maximum distance 
of some 1,300 yards. The operation of loading and 
firing was evidently a somewhat lengthy and difficult 
process, for a serpentine could not discharge more than 
a couple of rounds an hour. 

When the Pope proposed that Henry's Navy should 
assist his Holiness in resisting the " Turk's malice," the 
Solomon of England would have none of it. In answering 
the Brief the King replied that his " counsellors, after 
long communication and great reasoning, thought that 
if the King should send any help or navy by the sea 
it should little profit, considering the far distance of 
those parts so to be besieged, troubled, or obsessed 
by the said Turk ; and also, the English mariners 
have not been accustomed to sail any farther but to 
Pyses [Pisa], which is not half the journey, for it is 
six or seven months' sailing from Pyses to those parts 
where they might do the Turk any annoyance ; and 
so all the cost done by sea should little or nothing 
profit in this behalf. 

" Item, the said counsellors say that the galleys 
coming from Vennes [Venice] towards England be 
commonly seven months sailing, and sometimes more. 
Also they say that if so be the King should send from 
his royame his navy by the sea, the men being in the 
same should need twice or thrice victualling or they 
should come where they should apply, and yet then 
peradventure they should apply where no succour 


The Story of the British Navy 

would be had. And also the said ships might be sore 
troubled with contrary winds, so that they should 
not come to do any good in this great cause ; and also 
considering the great storms and perils of the sea which 
commonly by fortune and hap parteth ships and driveth 
them to several coasts, and twisteth them often times 
to perish, and so there should be great costs and 
charges done by the King, and yet no annoyance 
thereby done to the said Turk." 

Henry then dealt with the financial aspect of the 
proposed expedition, and suggested that as the other 
princes who were to take part were nearer the land 
of the infidel they could send 10,000 men at less expense 
than he could provide 2,000. 

" Item, if the King should prepare captains and other 
men of war, and apparel and habiliments, and neces- 
saries to the said ships, it should be May, whatsoever 
diligence were done on the King's part, ere they should 
be ready to sail : and it should be the last end of 
September ere the said ships should pass the straits 
of Morrok ; and great difficulty to find any mariners 
able to take the rule and governance of the said ships 
sailing into so jeopardous and far parts. The premisses 
considered, it is hard and almost not feasible to send 
any navy thither for any profit by them to be done 

That Henry believed in unity of command is shown 
in another paragraph, after which he adds with 
delightful naivete that either the King of France or of 
Spain shall be at the head of "so laudable an holy 
expedition." Their " commodities of ports, navies, 
and vitaill," and the nearness of " divers isles unto 
the said Turks," are given as reasons. 

On the other hand he showed himself ready to assist 

The Age of Discovery 

the Pope if the latter were left " sole and destitute " 
of the personal assistance of the kings of France and 
Spain, provided that the Holy Father assigned a sure 
port " to which the King's grace with his army may 
come, and also shall provide sufficient navy, masters, 
and mariners, armours and habiliments of war and 
vitaill, and all other necessary things," including sure 
and free journeying. Those monarchs who stayed at 
home were to contribute men and money. 

With the Age of Discovery the commercial centre 
of the world shifted to Western Europe. In a magic 
circle of less than thirty-five years enterprising 
navigators wrought a series of marvels of far-reaching 
and lasting consequence. Bartholomew Diaz rounded 
the Cape of Good Hope ; Columbus, believing he had 
arrived in Japan, discovered America ; Vasco da 
Gama reached India ; Magellan, a Portuguese sailing 
in a Spanish ship, entered the Pacific. Though the 
intrepid voyager who had navigated the rocky Straits 
of Tierra del Fuego was killed in the Philippines, one 
of Magellan's ships returned to Europe, sailing from the 
Sunda Islands across the Indian Ocean to the Cape of 
Good Hope, and thence to Spain. The first voyage 
round the world had been completed. 

The routes taken by Columbus on his four voyages 
are not those traversed by the modern mariner. He 
was exploring, and that task is left to the Scotts and 
Shackletons of the race. Perhaps the ocean highway 
most nearly approaching the line of his original 
attempt is the sea-water lane traversed by steamers 
running between St Thomas and the Canary Islands, 
and on his second voyage, that between Martinique 
and Teneriffe. The tracks taken by him in 1498 and 
1502 were more southerly. 


The Story of the British Navy 

Mark the delay of the British in entering the fray 
a national characteristic atoned for by dogged tenacity 
when once they had made up their mind. Newfound- 
land, our oldest colony, was discovered by a Venetian 
living at Bristol, John Cabot to wit. Small wonder 
that Lord Fisher deemed us one of the lost Ten Tribes. 
It may be so. Yet we have discovered more than the 
number originally mislaid. When Hakluyt claimed 
that Englishmen had always been " men full of activity, 
stirrers abroad, and searchers of the remote parts of 
the world," he was anticipatory rather than matter- 
of-fact. Henry VII not only gave Cabot his com- 
mission, but bore part of the expense out of his privy 
purse, " wheryn dyuers merchauntes, as well of Lon- 
don as of Bristowe, adventured goodes and sleight 
merchandises. ..." 

The King would also have shared in the glory of 
Columbus but for a series of unfortunate happenings. 
The navigator's brother Bartholomew was sent to 
approach Henry in the matter, but unfortunately fell 
into the hands of pirates. On reaching England illness 
was added to poverty. Being a man of considerable 
spirit he allowed neither the one nor the other to 
defeat his purpose. Skilful in map-drawing, he set 
about making and selling ' sea-cards.' Success attended 
these efforts, and Bartholomew eventually being pre- 
sented to the King, offered him a map of the world 
and proposed an expedition " for the discovery of the 
Indies." We are told that the offer was " accepted 
with joyfull countenance," and Christopher was asked 
to come to England. " But because God had reserved 
the sayd offer for Castile," his son tells us, " Columbus 
was gone in the meane space." 



Development and Decay 

The world must be governed by force or fraud. 


OF all England's many monarchs until the 
accession of Edward VII, none took a livelier 
interest in the development of the Navy than 
Henry VIII. He laid the foundations of the power 
that broke Spain. He followed in the steps of his father, 
who had built the first dry dock in England at 
Portsmouth, by founding dockyards at Woolwich and 
Deptford, Trinity House owes its existence to him, 
and he took a personal pride in new constructions 
whether of ships or of guns. The King studied the 
minutest details, encouraged afforestation so that there 
might be a plentiful supply of timber, erected coastal 
fortifications, encouraged Italian shipbuilders to this 
country, and placed the constitution of the service 
on a sound basis. In these matters his prompter was 
himself. He was never happier than when bidding 
godspeed to the fleet when it sailed on an expedition. 
Yet all his care did not prevent errors of administration 
and organization, for in 1522 the want of flesh, fish, 
and liquor prevented Fitzwilliam from following up 
his preliminary successes at sea. 

The time-honoured system of ravaging and plun- 
dering still obtained. War with France broke out in 
1511, with Sir Edward Howard, Lord High Admiral, 


The Story of the British Navy 

harrying the coast of Brittany. Crossing to Brest 
in the following year, an engagement worthy of the 
Navy was fought at sea, when the enemy was defeated 
as the French fleet left port. The English Regent and 
the French Cordelier, falling on board one another, 
caught fire, and carried hundreds of men to the 

Sir Edward, high-spirited and confident, again left 
Portsmouth in 1513 with twenty-four ships, but no 
French squadron met him. The enemy scurried back 
as quickly as possible, putting into Bertheaume Bay, 
where it remained under the protection of the forts. 
Determined on victory, the Admiral very unwisely 
attacked the French as they lay at anchor, and as a 
result one of his largest ships struck a rock and was 

Defeated but not dismayed, Howard turned his 
attention to a number of galleys from the Mediterranean 
which were to have joined the French at Brest, but 
having failed to do so had taken refuge on the beach 
of the island of Le Conquet, south-east of Ushant. 
Unable to use his big ships, Howard attempted a 
cutting-out expedition in small boats, with what result 
is reported by Sir Edward Echyngham as follows : 

" The galleys were protected on both sides by bul- 
warks, planted so thick with guns and cross-bows, 
that the quarrels and the gonstons [gun-stones] came 
together as thick as hailstones. For all this the admiral 
boarded the galley that Preyer John [a corruption of 
Pregent] was in and Charran the Spaniard with him 
and sixteen others. By advice of the admiral and 
Charran they had cast anchor into [word illegible] 
of the French galley, and fastened the cable to the 
capstan that if any of the galleys had been on fire they 

Development and Decay 

might have veered the cable, and fallen off ; but 
the French hewed asunder the cable, or some of our 
mariners let it slip. And so they left this [word illegible] 
in the hands of our enemies. There was a mariner 
wounded in eighteen places who by adventure recovered 
unto the buoy of the galley so that the galley's boat 
took him up. He said he saw my Lord Admiral thrust 
against the rails of the galley with marris pikes. 
Charran's boy tells a like tale, for when his master and 
the admiral had entered, Charran sent him for his 
hand gun which before he could deliver the one galley 
was gone off from the other, and he saw my Lord 
Admiral waving his hands and crying to the galleys, 
* Come aboard again, come aboard again,' which when 
my Lord saw they could not, he took his whistle from 
about his neck, wrapped it together and threw it into 
the sea." 

In due course the enemy retaliated in the usual 
way by scourging the coast of Sussex and burning 
Brighton. Howard's brother, Sir Thomas, sought 
revenge with another fleet, but the French retired, as 
before, though he afterward captured Terouenne and 
Tournai. Cherbourg fell in a joint expedition under- 
taken by the Emperor Charles V and Henry VIII in 
1522, and Howard took Morlaix. In his wars with France 
the English King held the command of the sea, and 
always had a small patrolling force in the Straits of 
Dover and the Channel, winter and summer alike. 
Fitzwilliam drove back the escort of the Duke of Albany 
when it sailed from France for Scotland, and leaving 
some of his ships to watch the ports in which they 
had found refuge, wrought havoc in the neighbourhood 
of Le Tre"port. In that harbour not a single ship escaped 
the flames. 


The Story of the British Navy 

Following the capture of Boulogne by England in 
1544, Francis I bestirred himself to wrest from Henry 
his undoubted supremacy at sea. By tremendous 
exertion in his own home ports, and considerable ex- 
pense in chartering vessels from the Mediterranean, his 
floating forces rapidly outgrew those of his hated rival, 
though as events proved he put too much faith in the 
virtue of the galley armed with a solitary gun in the 
bow. A French fleet entered the Solent, and landed 
an army at Bembridge, in the Isle of Wight. The 
advance of the soldiery was checked, and a party sent 
to get water from the little stream that runs through 
Shanklin Chine was annihilated. The English fleet 
had retired into Portsmouth Harbour, and D' Annebault, 
the French admiral, was only deterred from entering 
it by insufficient knowledge of the intricacies of the 
channel. He confined himself to a series of attacks 
by some of the galleys, with little or no success. The 
English, however, suffered a grave misfortune by the 
loss of the Mary Rose, formerly Sir Edward Howard's 
flagship. She was capsized either by a sudden squall 
or when altering course both explanations have been 
given. The ship certainly heeled over, and as the lower- 
deck ports were less than eighteen inches above the 
water-line, and had been left open, the water rushed 
in. As the guns were not fastened they broke loose 
and slid down the decks, completing the heavy list 
and causing her to capsize. Over 500 soldiers and 
sailors are believed to have perished. On leaving 
Havre the enemy had also suffered the loss of a big 
vessel, the Philippe, which was burnt. 

D' Annebault made one or two incursions into 
Sussex before returning to France, where he disembarked 
some of his men and again sailed for England. Slipping 

Development and Decay 

out of Portsmouth, Lisle discovered the French at no 
great distance from Shoreham. Although the action 
was slight and inconclusive, it is notable that Lisle 
divided his fleet of 104 vessels into three squadrons, 
the Vanwarde, the Battle, and the Wing. We shall 
constantly meet these divisions in later pages as the 
Van, the Centre, and the Rear, or the Red, White, 
and Blue squadrons. The Van fought the enemy's 
Van, and so on. As reprisal for the attack on the 
English coast Le Treport and its shipping were again 

Lisle' s flagship was the Henri Grace a Dieu, a four- 
masted ship with two gun-decks and lofty poop and 
forecastle, built in 1515, and sometimes confused with 
the Great Harry. She was of 1,000 tons, and carried 
301 mariners, fifty gunners, and 349 soldiers. 

" By the employment of Italian shipwrights," says 
an old writer, " and by encouraging his own people 
to build strong ships of war to carry great ordnance, 
Henry established a puissant navy, which, at the 
end of his reign, consisted of seventy-one vessels, 
whereof thirty were ships of burden, and contained 
in all 10,550 tons, and two were galleys, and the rest 
were small barks and row-barges, from eighty tons 
down to fifteen tons, which served in rivers and for 
landing men." 

Another source of strength at this time was the 
privateer. Many a gallant gentleman of Devon and the 
West of England thought fit to obtain letters of marque 
for the purpose of dealing with the king's enemies 
in an individual capacity that promised probabilities 
of rich plunder. This practice was further developed 
under Edward VI and Mary, and reached its zenith 
under Elizabeth. Whatever it may have been morally, 


The Story of the British Navy 

the idea was certainly extremely useful, for it relieved 
the Navy to an appreciable extent. It afforded excellent 
training in seamanship, gave Protestants a fine chance 
of venting their spleen on Papists, filled their purses 
when things went well, and still further embittered 
them against their enemies when affairs went ill. 

Though Edward VI began his reign with fifty-three 
vessels carrying 2,085 guns many of them, of course, 
of no great consequence and only useful for repelling 
boarders he left it in a considerably reduced state, 
and the process of decay was unchecked by his sister. 
Mary's match with Philip of Spain was possibly 
sufficient excuse for this, though it must have been 
humiliating to her mariners and those of her subjects 
who took pride in their heritage, notwithstanding 
that by the marriage treaty no foreigner could hold 
command in Navy or Army. Not a ship stirred in 
response to the appeal of the commander at Calais 
when the French were about to attack the sole re- 
maining English possession in France. Conquered by 
Edward III in 1347, the town was surrendered in 1558. 
At Gravelines a few ships put in a belated appearance, 
but did little else. England's greatest victory at sea 
during a troubled reign was won by Lord William 
Howard. It occurred when Philip came over to woo 
Mary. He was met by a small squadron, and as his 
vessels neither lowered their top-sails nor dipped their 
colours to the flag of St George, the Lord High Admiral 
put a shot across the bow of the Spanish admiral's 
flagship. It had the desired effect. 

In this incident, trivial enough in one aspect but 
significant in another, we may discern England's new 
outlook. It was toward the open sea and the unknown 

In Elizabeth's Spacious Days 

Whosoever commands the sea commands the trade ; whoso- 
ever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of 
the world, and consequently the world itself. RALEIGH 

TO proselytize and to gain wealth were the 
lodestars that beckoned men to the New 
World when the importance of the discovery 
was fully realized. Cruelty and mismanagement in the 
name of his Most Christian Majesty of Spain obtained 
for a time. El Dorados, more real than the site of 
long-lost Paradise of which Columbus dreamed, were 
visualized and emptied of their treasures, but the 
light of colonial Spain flickered and went out, and 
the sea-Power of the Spanish Main dwindled into 

Exploration, religion, and commerce had much to 
do with the making of England's supremacy at sea 
during the spacious days of Elizabeth. She ceased 
to be insular in outlook, and a rosy optimism seemed 
to dominate the race as never before. " The searching 
and unsatisfied spirits of the English, to the great 
glory of our Nation," says Stowe, " could not be con- 
tained within the banckes of the Mediterranean or 
Levant seas, but they passed far toward both the 
Articke and the Antarticke Poles, enlarging their trade 
into the West and East Indies." 

In the praiseworthy attempts to discover new trade- 


The Story of the British Navy 

routes Portugal and Spain had undoubtedly triumphed, 
though five years before the succession of good Queen 
Bess the attempt of ' the Mysterie and Companie 
of the Marchants Adventurers for the Discoverie of 
Regions, Dominions, Islands, and Places Unknowen ' 
to find China and the East Indies by way of the 
northern and north-eastern seas had resulted in the 
navigation of a new route to Russia. Such was the 
origin of the famous Muscovy Company. 

The belief is generally entertained, and is altogether 
wrong, that with the discovery of a seaway to India 
in 1486 the traffic of proud Venice with the Orient 
came almost automatically to an ignominious end. 
It undoubtedly had an evil effect on its sea-borne 
trade, as did the fall of Damascus, Alexandria, and 
Cairo into the hands of the Sultan, but the caravan 
routes were utilized to an appreciable extent, the 
goods being brought across the Balkan Peninsula to 
Spalato. Stock not disposed of at that busy centre 
was placed on vessels and taken to Venice. By about 
the middle of the sixteenth century, the galleons and 
caravels of the proud Republic ceased to make regular 
voyages to Britain and the Low Countries, but her 
traffic with the Levant continued until the dawn of 
the eighteenth century. 

The neighbouring republic of Genoa, which shared 
with Venice the commerce of the Orient, was likewise 
affected by Vasco da Gama's discovery. At that time 
she was building goodly carracks of 1,600 tons, and 
many a Venetian and Genoese vessel was hired by 
England to take her wares to distant lands and sunnier 
climes. Venice did not entirely surrender to Antwerp 
and Lisbon, and to-day the wonderful City of the Rialto 
that had emerged from the mud carries on a flourishing 

In Elizabeth's Spacious Days 

export trade, which includes building materials of 
divers kinds, hemp, and paper. Quite close to the site 
of the battle of Actium (31 B.C.) the noble galleasses 
of Venice fought the Turks at Lepanto in 1571, when 
the Republic was aided by Spain and the Papal States. 
It may be that the result was an added incentive to 
Philip's ambition to contest England with the Armada. 

Unfortunately the defeat of the Turks had no marked 
influence on the nefarious practices of the corsairs, 
who scourged the Mediterranean until the third decade 
of the nineteenth century. The names of such men as 
the Barbarossas, Dragut, and Ali were as much feared 
by legitimate mariners as was that of Drake on the 
Spanish Main. The expulsion of the Moors from Spain, 
when fanaticism on either side was rampant, led to 
the setting-up of the pirate republic of Salee. Readers 
with retentive memories will recollect that Robinson 
Crusoe was captured by a " Rover of Salee," and 
escaped after two years' imprisonment. 

It is somewhat remarkable that this time should 
have been chosen by English merchants to turn 
seriously to the Mediterranean as an area for commer- 
cial enterprise. Hitherto they had been content to 
have their goods carried in foreign bottoms, but there 
gradually grew up a more or less regular line of traffic 
in English ships between Southampton and Bristol 
and Sicily, Crete, Cyprus, and Tripoli. Then came a 
lapse of a quarter of a century, followed by a resur- 
rection of trade with the Levant on the part of the 
Turkey Company. That business was carried on with 
considerable risk is proved by the number of captures 
made by the Mussulmans, despite the Sultan's strict 
orders, in addition to those taken by the Barbary 
corsairs. The "hellish thraldome" of the unfortunates 


The Story of the British Navy 

moved the Bishop of London to appeal to the Cor- 
poration in 1582 to " staye such entercourse with 

The first East Indiaman sailed from Woolwich on 
February 13, 1601, a date which doubtless upset the 
superstitious susceptibilities of some of her crew. 
She was bound " East of Suez," though the route she 
took was obviously not that of to-day, but round the 
Cape of Good Hope. James Lancaster, in command, 
had no scruples in such relatively small matters as the 
capture of Portuguese vessels and the niching of their 
cargoes. Early in June he reached Acheen, in Sumatra, 
where he was well received by Prince Ala-ud-dhin, 
who granted him trading privileges. At Bantam, 
in Java, Lancaster did much excellent business by 
disposing of the wares he had brought from England 
and " secured " during the voyage, and eventually 
reached the Thames after an absence of two years 
and eight months. " The passage to the East Indies," 
he reported, " lieth in 62 degrees by the north-west 
on the American side." 

It was a notable triumph. The Dragon, Lancaster's 
largest ship, was of 600 tons, only 68 tons less than an 
armed East Indiaman launched at Blackwall a century 
and a half later. In due course the Company which 
laid the foundations of an empire within an empire 
became the largest shipping line in Britain. The type 
usually referred to as East Indiaman was not built 
during the Elizabethan period. It did not come into 
being until about 1772. 

Early in the reign Elizabeth set about increasing her 
naval force, and Burchett tells us that " many of her 
wealthy subjects, who lived near the sea-coasts, set 
themselves to building of ships, so that in a short time 

In Elizabeth's Spacious Days 

those of the Crown and of private persons were be- 
come so numerous as, on occasion of any naval war, 
might employ 20,000 men. The good effects of these 
preparations were shortly after seen in the war the 
Queen undertook in behalf of the Protestants of France, 
wherein, besides the land forces she sent over to 
Normandy to their assistance, her ships, scouring the 
seas, sorely distressed their enemies by taking great 
numbers of prizes from them, and at length totally 
interrupting their trade." 

Throughout the forty-four years that good Queen 
Bess occupied the throne adventurers assisted her 
with their private vessels. They were, in a word, 
privateers, even though their owners or other folk 
interested in them were highly respected members of 
society. There may have been patriotic reasons, but 
the primary motive was plunder and profit. In some 
of the expeditions not officially undertaken to punish 
her enemies the sovereign was not above having a 
pecuniary interest, and when Elizabeth invested money, 
be it said, she invariably expected, and usually exacted, 
an adequate return. Thus we find ships belonging to 
the Navy taking part in the shameful but profitable 
slaving expeditions of John Hawkins. Whether or not 
the hardened old sinner turned over a new leaf at a 
later period, when he and Frobisher were engaged 
in strictly legitimate warfare, is open to doubt, despite 
his assertion that " Paul planteth and Apollos watereth, 
but it is God who gives the increase." On this particular 
occasion Providence provided no prizes, and when 
Elizabeth heard the remark she is said to have 
cynically retorted, " God's death ! This fool went out 
a soldier, and is come home a divine." 

The disastrous expedition to the West Indies, which 


The Story of the British Navy 

sailed in 1594 with the object of seizing Spanish bullion, 
is another case in point. Of the twenty-six vessels 
which took part in it only half a dozen belonged to 
the Queen. The remainder were owned by private 
adventurers. During it both Hawkins and Drake died 
and were buried at sea. 

Perhaps no incident in the maritime history of the 
period reveals the grasping character of the shrewd 
and exacting woman who presided over the destinies 
of England than ^ *i incident which took place in 1592. 
Some ships owned by the Earl of Cumberland, a seaman 
of ripe experience with a turn for expeditions, fitted 
out at his own expense, together with others belonging 
to Raleigh and the Hawkins family, fell in with the 
Portuguese Madre de Dios. Unfortunately a little 
naval vessel which the carrack could have ' swallowed ' 
happened to be present, and Elizabeth claimed and 
secured the greater part of the profit made from the 
sale of the rich East Indian cargo. It is stated that the 
wonderful assortment of silks, spices, carpets, and other 
goods captured so aroused the enthusiasm of the London 
merchants who saw them that the prize indirectly 
contributed to the formation of the East India Company. 

Hitherto the Navy had been manned by soldiers 
rather than by sailors, but during the Elizabethan 
period we find the latter coming into their own, al- 
though in the Commonwealth we shall still come across 
instances of a man like Blake being put in charge of a 
fleet and combining the duties and title of General 
and Admiral. Although Drake was first and foremost 
a sailor, he was also a keen fighter on land, as in later 
times was Sir Edward Hobart Seymour, who led forces 
on shore for the relief of the besieged legations in 

In Elizabeth's Spacious Days 

Even more important, some sense of proportion 
was observed regarding the various types of vessels 
employed. Although there was no marked increase 
in the tonnage of the largest ships, there certainly 
was in the smaller. In the first year of the reign of 
Edward VI, the combined tonnage of the fifty-three 
vessels of the Navy was 11,268 ; in the last year of 
Elizabeth's rule the tonnage was 17,055 and the 
number of ships only forty -two. Diversity in the pieces 
of ordnance still obtained, ranging according to Sir 
William Monson from cast-iron cannon with a bore of 
8 inches and a shot of 60 Ib. to a rabinet of 1 inch firing 
a half-pound shot. Culverins of 5| inches discharging 
a ball weighing 17| Ib. appear to have been considered 
useful weapons, for of the sixty-eight guns mounted 
in the Triumph, seventeen were culverins, only three 
fewer than the fowler chambers employed for repelling 
boarders. Until the coming of Fisher's Dreadnought 
in 1906 the frequent practice was to mount a medley 
of weapons. 

How did it come about that, although nominally 
at peace, Englishmen could make raids on Spanish 
territory and capture Spanish ships ? The question 
takes us back to the time of Columbus's discovery. 
Pope Nicholas V, with easy authority, had invested 
the Portuguese with all lands discovered during their 
voyages to the south and east. A little later Pope 
Alexander VI decided that all the land to the 
west of a line drawn 800 miles west of the Azores 
should belong to Spain, and that on the east to 
Portugal. This was not at all in keeping with the 
notions of Elizabethan sea-dogs, who wished to share 
in the commerce of the New World, and were certainly 
not disposed to regard the adjudication of wearers of 


The Story of the British Navy 

the Triple Tiara in such matters as legally binding. 
The Queen on her part refused to recognize America 
as Spain's monopoly, and as we have seen, became a 
partner in some of the expeditions. Those were not the 
days when international complications could be brought 
about by the murder of an Englishman in some remote 
part of the world, and if certain adventurous spirits 
among her subjects cared to run the risk of sudden 
death it was no business of hers. It was little short of 
amazing what Philip of Spain stomached before open 
hostilities were declared. On one occasion Hawkins 
fired on a galley loaded with captives from the 
Netherlands, and after releasing them sent them home. 
This, it must be conceded, was somewhat humiliating 
to the greatest sea - Power of the day, but nothing 
happened other than a complaint from the ambassador. 
" Your mariners," he told Elizabeth, " rob my master's 
subjects on the sea, and trade where they are forbidden 
to go. They attack our vessels in our very harbours 
and take our prisoners from them. We have borne 
with these things, attributing them rather to passion 
or rudeness of manners than to any deliberate purpose 
of envy ; but, seeing there is no remedy and no end, 
I must now refer to my sovereign to learn what I am 
to do. I make, however, one concluding appeal to 
your Majesty. I entreat your Majesty to punish this 
last outrage at Plymouth, and to preserve the peace 
between the two countries." 

Other great ocean-warriors there were, but the 
sea-history of Elizabeth's day centres to a very 
appreciable extent around the personality of Francis 
Drake. Heaven knows, there is romance enough for 
a dozen folk in this sea-king of Devon. Cradled on a 
farm, breeched in a rotting hulk on the Medway, 

In Elizabeth's Spacious Days 

brought up in the environment of ships new and old 
within hail of Chatham dockyard, taught the demo- 
cratic creed of a Protestant father who lost all through 
Catholicism, mentally nourished on a hatred of Spain 
as -of the devil, hardened by an apprenticeship on a 
Channel coaster, and finally taking service in the Navy 
at twenty-four or thereabouts, Drake was to the people 
of England their own particular representative on the 
high seas. 

To him the offensive was a moral and a strategic 
principle. " To seek God's enemies and her Majesty's 
where they may be found," to quote his own words, 
was the alpha and omega of his creed. It was his religion. 
What Nelson did at Copenhagen was done by Drake at 
Gravelines, as we shall discover in a later chapter. 

What manner of man was this commander who 
combined hot courage with a cool head ? Let a captured 
Spanish commander, Don Francisco de Zarate to wit, 
tell us in a letter recently discovered by Lady Elliott- 
Drake : 

" He received me favourably," the Don writes, " and 
took me to his room, where he made me be seated, 
and said to me : ' I am a friend to those who speak the 
truth, that is what will have the most weight with me. 
What silver or gold does this ship bring ? ' . . . We 
spoke together a great while until the dinner hour. 
He told me to sit beside him and treated me from his 
dishes, bidding me have no fear, for my life and goods 
were safe ; for which I kissed his hands. 

" This English General," he goes on, " is a cousin 
of John Hawkins ; he is the same who about five years 
ago took the port of Nombre de Dios ; he is called 
Francis Drake ; a man of some five and thirty years, 
small of stature and red-bearded, one of the greatest 


The Story of the British Navy 

sailors on the sea, both from skill and power of 
commanding. His ship carried about 400 tons, is swift 
of sail, and of a hundred men, all skilled and in their 
prime, and all as much experienced in warfare as if 
they were old soldiers of Italy. Each one, in particular, 
takes great pains to keep his arms, he treats them with 
affection, and they treat him with respect. ... I 
endeavoured to find out whether the General was 
liked, and every one told me he was adored." 

Here is what happened on Sunday, August 9, 1573, 
when Drake returned home from his expedition to 
Nombre de Dios, * the Treasure-house of the World,' 
and marching by way of the Cordilleras, was the first 
Englishman to gaze on the fabled Pacific. The news 
" did so speedily pass over all the church, and surpass 
their minds with desire and delight to see him, that very 
few or none remained with the preacher, all hastening 
to see the evidence of God's love and blessing towards 
our gracious Queen and country." 



The Menace of the Armada 

The navy of England may be divided into three sorts, of 
which the one serveth for the wars, the other for burden, and the 
third for fishermen, which get their living by fishing on the 

A~ MOST up to the last generation the importance 
of the Armada was deemed to be mainly 
theological. Boys and girls left school with 
the impression that the underlying idea of its projector 
was to propagate the view of that section of the Church 
to which he belonged. Providence, being presumably 
Protestant, scattered the fleet in the nick of time and 
saved England. This compound of error was usually 
garnished with the celebrated story of the admirals 
playing bowls on Plymouth Hoe. 

Actually the main causes that led to Philip of Spain's 
struggle with England were two. The first was the 
constantly repeated attacks on his ships and territory 
by Drake and other adventurers, and Elizabeth's refusal 
either to punish the marauders or stop what Philip 
regarded as their lawless deeds, and the second was the 
recognition of the Dutch Republic, brought into being 
by his rebellious subjects aided and abetted by the 
English Queen. 

Although Howard of Effingham, Hawkins, Drake, 
Raleigh, and other practical seamen urged that 
ships were the proper means of resisting invasion, a 


The Story of the British Navy 

considerable amount of time, energy, and money was 
spent on internal defence. There was then no regular 
army, although each county had a levy of armed men 
who met occasionally but not regularly, and London 
and other large centres had their trained bands. On 
this occasion the capital provided 20,696 men, not 
included in the total of 87,281 foot and horse that 
England and Wales were called upon to furnish. 

An army of 22,000 foot and 2,000 horse was stationed 
at Tilbury for the defence of London ; a second army 
consisting of 28,900 was placed in Essex " for the 
defence of her Majesty's person," and a third and more 
formidable army of 27,000 foot, 407 heavy horse, and 
1,961 light horse was " to resist the landing, and oppose 
the progress of the enemy." 

Elizabeth first issued instructions to the lord- 
lieutenants of all the maritime counties to put the 
districts under their charge in a state of defence. The 
captains in each lieutenancy were shown the positions 
they were to occupy, the points needing batteries 
and earthworks, and were ordered " to have roads 
and fords repaired, and cross-bars ready, to stop the 
enemy after landing." Special attention was paid 
to Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset, Essex, Norfolk, 
and Suffolk, which were deemed the most vulnerable 
points. In Dorset, for instance, each district provided 
fifty carriages for conveying provisions. Every parish 
furnished a foot-post, and every market-town a horse- 
post. The cattle were to be driven inland and provisions 
burned should there be any risk of their being captured 
by the Spaniards. 

Returns were also made of the number of ships and 
men in every port, the number of the former being 
1,634 and of the latter 16,259, including masters, 

The Menace of the Armada 

mariners, fishermen, and wherrymen. The inquiries 
thus made led to several reforms in such matters as the 
wages of the men in the Navy, which were increased, 
and also to accommodation for the fleet being provided 
at the Isle of Wight, Weymouth, Dartmouth, Plymouth, 
and Falmouth. Many of the seaport towns were called 
upon to furnish both ships and men to augment the 
regular fleet. In this matter the City of London was 
again to the fore, and provided thirty vessels and 
2,130 men. The Queen's ships numbered thirty-four, 
Drake had thirty-two merchant -ships serving under 
him, Howard thirty-three merchant-ships and twenty 
coasters, Seymour twenty-three coasters, and twenty- 
three other vessels ' joined up ' voluntarily with the 
coming of the Armada. 

The disparity in the size of the ships of the opposing 
forces was not nearly so alarming as popular belief 
has made it. In the Queen's ships we find the Triumph 
and the White Bear of 1,100 and 1,000 tons respectively, 
and in those of Philip II one galleon of 1,249 tons, 
one of 1,200 tons, one of 1,160 tons, one of 1,150 tons, 
one of 1,100 tons, one of 1,050 tons, and one of 1,000 
tons. There is reason to believe that the official Spanish 
measurements erred on the side of exaggeration, for 
the San Salvador, listed at 958 tons, was reported on 
being captured as of 600 tons only. It is more than 
likely that the surveyors erred, but scarcely to so 
great an extent as over 300 tons. What was far more 
important than making a brave show was that the 
English vessels were considerably more heavily armed 
and served, and better sailers. 

England's partiality for ' muddling through ' was 
evident in the trying days of the Armada. The scandal 
of the shell shortage of 1915 had its counterpart in 


The Story of the British Navy 

1588. Writing to the Lords of the Council on March 
30th of the latter year, Drake notes, " consider of our 
proporcions in powlder, shotte and other munycion 
. . . which proporcion in powlder and shotte for our 
greate ordynance in H.M.'s shippes is but one daie 
and halfes servyce. . . . Good my lords I beseeche you 
to consider deeplie of this, for it importeth but the 
losse of all. ... I have sente unto your good Lordships 
the note of such powlder and munytyon as are 
delivered unto us for this great servyce, which in truthe 
I judge to be just a thirde part of that which is 
needefull, ffor if we should wante it when we shall 
have moste neede thereof it will be too late to sende 
to the Tower for it." 

Nearly four months later, and only two days before 
the battle off Portland Bill, Lord Charles Howard 
penned the following to Walsingham : ** Sir, for the 
love of God and our country let us have with sume 
sped some graet shote sent us of all bignes, for this 
sarvis wyll continew long, and sume powder with it." 

" Ther must be grate care taken," Drake urges on 
July 29th, " to send us monycyon and vittuall whether 
soever the enemey goeth." 

This want of efficiency was as nothing compared 
to that of the Spaniards. The idea of the invasion of 
England was first mooted to Philip by Alvaro de Bazan, 
Marquis of Santa Cruz, a leader of undoubted merit 
and bravery, possessing the confidence of all who served 
under him, and known as the * never-conquered cap- 
tain.' In August 1583 he proposed that the fleet 
should be prepared for service for use in the following 
year, which would allow of the completion of nine 
galleons then on the stocks. Nothing of consequence 
was done until the beginning of 1586, when Santa Cruz 

The Menace of the Armada 

again brought the matter before the King's notice 
and received a reply asking for more detailed par- 
ticulars. To do the job thoroughly the Marquis asked 
for a main squadron of 510 craft, of which 150 were to 
be big ships, and a secondary squadron that would 
bring the total up to 596, including transports for no 
fewer than 55,000 men and 1,200 horse-soldiers. 
Altogether the floating population of the Armada 
would be 94,222. The King hesitated and was lost. 
It would involve vast wealth, and Philip was not 
disposed to foot so big a bill. Philip's notion was that 
Santa Cruz should secure command of the Channel 
and the North Sea and cover the crossing of Parma's 
army from the Netherlands, which was then waging 
war against the United Provinces. Preparations were 
begun without further delay, but in order that the 
big secret should not leak out the number of those 
who were entrusted with information as to the whys 
and wherefores of the undertaking was strictly limited. 

Philip's elaborate precautions availed nothing. News 
of the shipbuilding going on in Spanish ports reached 
England, and the terrible " El Draque " was sent off 
to report. Of the thirty ships that he took with him 
only four and a couple of pinnaces belonged to the Navy 
proper. The others went in the hope of making a profit 
on the voyage, and were not chartered by the Queen. 

It was on this occasion that Drake " singed the 
King of Spain's beard." In the outer harbour of Cadiz 
he found eighteen ships preparing, and burned the lot. 
Then he landed at Cape St Vincent, plundered the 
monastery and set it on fire, and after taking several 
castles, captured a number of ships having valuable 
cargoes. Off the Azores he took a prize richly laden 
with bullion, precious stones, silk, and spices, and 


The Story of the British Navy 

having done what he had set out to do, plus a little 
more, sailed for Plymouth. The invasion, planned 
for the summer of 1587, was again postponed. In the 
following year the bold adventurer asked to be allowed 
to take the offensive again, but the Queen did not grant 
his petition. 

Santa Cruz, the ' Iron Marquis,' died in February, 
1588, and the King filled or thought he could fill 
his place with Don Alonso Perez de Guzman, Duke 
of Medina Sidonia, a wealthy aristocrat totally unsuited 
to the post. He detested the sea and he hated his job. 
It is to his credit that he tried to avoid accepting the 
appointment, but the King would regard no excuse 
as valid, despite pleas of sea-sickness and catching cold, 
and appointed him " Captain-General of the Ocean 

The paring process finally reduced the complement 
of the Armada to 29,433 men, of whom 10,138 were 
oarsmen and sailors. With Parma's 30,000 soldiers, 
the total number of warriors available would be less 
than 50,000. 

Delay followed delay, but at long last Medina 
Sidonia announced that he was ready. His instructions 
were to sail to the North Foreland and cover Parma's 
passage. While the Duke was informed that the English 
would fight at a distance " on account of the advantage 
he has in artillery," and would aim low and as near 
to the water-line as possible, his method of fighting 
was to be the time-honoured ' close quarters.' All this 
is much to the point and thoroughly sound, but the 
Duke was not to fight except as a last resort. Medina 
Sidonia must have read the following with no little 
satisfaction : " This instruction as to fighting is to 
apply if there is no other means of securing the passage 

The Menace of the Armada 

to England of my cousin the Duke of Parma, for it 
will be well if, keeping your forces intact, you can secure 
the same result either by misleading the enemy, or in 
some other way." After the army had landed the 
Admiral was to blockade the Thames, and following 
the subjugation of England an attempt on Ireland 
might be made. Should anything preclude Parma from 
crossing, Medina Sidonia was to try and take possession 
of the Isle of Wight. 

Parma was ready with 17,000 men, 1,000 light horse, 
and 300 transport vessels. This information came 
to the Admiral shortly before the first ships of the 
Armada hoisted their gorgeously painted canvas on 
May 30, 1588, and departed from Lisbon. Trouble 
began at once. The weather was hot and tainted much 
of the meat, the wind was wrong and precluded any- 
thing but the slowest progress ; then a mild gale came 
on and searched the weak points of the ships. Leaks, 
broken spars, and split sails were included in the 
casualties, and the Admiral's flagship and one or two 
other vessels put into Corurla. The remainder of the 
Armada continued on their voyage to the Scillies, 
the general rendezvous arranged in case the fleet became 
divided. Some of the galleons, transports, and store- 
ships actually arrived at the islands, and not finding 
the others there, returned to Spain before the Admiral 
had completed his repairs. So far no ship had foundered, 
and after concentrating at Corurla the Armada made a 
second start on July 12th. By the 19th the mighty 
armament was off the Lizard. Lord Howard was then 
lying in Plymouth Sound. The wind was with the 
Spaniards, and had Medina Sidonia availed himself 
of the opportunity he could have sailed into the Sound 
and fought at close quarters, since the English would 


The Story of the British Navy 

have had great difficulty in getting out. The Admiral, 
lacking " the supreme gift of insubordination," pre- 
ferred to be guided by the letter of the King's 
instructions and lost a unique chance. It is only fair 
to add that at the council of war held on the San 
Martin several of the admirals and generals did not 
agree with their superior officer, but were overruled. 
The present breakwater is built on shoals which loomed 
large in the eyes of some of the sailors on this occasion. 
They argued that they would not be able to attack in 
line abreast, and that as they entered in line ahead 
each ship would be attacked individually. The * safe * 
course was adopted, and it proved disastrous. 

While the Armada was lumbering up Channel in 
drizzle and mist, Howard's fleet was carefully feeling 
its way out to give chase and bring it to battle. 



Fighting Spain in the Channel 

The advantage of time and place in all martial actions is half 
a victory ; which being lost is irrecoverable. DRAKE 

WHEN some of the Spanish ships had been 
reported off the coast before their recall to 
Corufia, Howard had sailed from Plymouth 
hoping " in God we shall meet with some of them." 
The pious wish of the commander-in-chief was not 
fulfilled, though he scoured the sea between France 
and the Scillies, and Drake and Hawkins patrolled 
with lynx-eyed vigilance. 

The constantly recurring hope of Drake that his 
wish to sail for the Spanish coast might be fulfilled is 
almost pathetic. He makes a final appeal to Howard : 

" To maintain my opinion that I have thought it 
meeter to go for the coast of Spain, or at least more 
nearer than we are now, are these good reasons following, 
written on board her Majesty's good ship the Revenge, 
this fourth of July 1588 : 

" The first, that hearing of some part of the Spanish 
fleet upon our coast, and that in several fleets, the one 
of 11 sail, the other of 6 sail, and the last of 18 sail, 
all these being seen the 20th and 21st of June ; since 
which time, we being upon the coast of France, could 
have no intelligence of their being there, or passing 
through our Channel ; neither hearing, upon our own 
coast, of their arrival in any place, and speaking with 


The Story of the British Navy 

a bark, which came lately out of Ireland, who can 
advertise nobody of their being in those parts, I am 
utterly of opinion that they are returned, considering 
what weather they have had since that time ; other- 
wise they could [? not] have been here without our 

" I say further, that if they be returning, our staying 
here in this place shall but spend our victual, whereby 
our whole action is in peril, no service being done. 
For the lengthening of our victual by setting a straiter 
order for our company, I find them much discontented 
if we stay here ; whereas if we proceed they all promise 
to live with as little portion as we shall appoint unto 

" Our being upon the coast of Spain will yield us 
true intelligence of all their purposes. 

" The taking of some of their army shall much daunt 
them and put a great fear amongst them. 

" My opinion is altogether that we shall fight with 
them much better cheep x upon their own coast than 
here ; for I think this one of the unmeetest places to 
stay for them. 

" To conclude, I verily believe that if we undertake 
no present service, but detract time some few days, 
we shall hardly be able to perform any matter of 

It is to the everlasting credit of Howard that he 
recognized the force and wisdom of his lieutenant's 
arguments, and acting against orders, gave instructions 
for the fleet to sail for Cornua. The wind, and the wind 
only, thwarted them. A south-wester sprang up, 
and the ships were compelled to return. On the day 
that Howard reached Plymouth Medina Sidonia put 

1 On better terms. 

Fighting Spain in the Channel 

to sea. " Sir," wrote Howard to Walsingham, " the 
southerly wind that brought us back from the coast 
of Spain brought them out." 

There is no need to disbelieve the story of Howard, 
Drake, and other sea-kings playing bowls on Plymouth 
Hoe, and that the red-bearded son of Devon bade them 
continue on their receiving news of the presence of the 
Armada because there was time enough to finish and to 
beat the Spaniards afterward. It fits in with what we 
know of the man's personality, and goes back to the 
time when some of Drake's contemporaries were living. 

During the night of July 20th many of the English 
ships had left port, crossed the enemy's front, and 
secured the windward position for the forthcoming 
attack. Sending the Defiance to fire a gun at the enemy 
to announce that it was open war, on the following 
morning Howard endeavoured to reach the Spaniards 
before the now dying wind was completely exhausted. 
The formation of the enemy was not the elongated 
crescent, as is usually supposed. Ahead were the 
squadrons of Portugal and Castile, the right wing or 
vanguard consisted of the Guipuzcoan and Levantine 
squadrons, and the Andalusian and Biscayan squadrons 
formed the left wing or rearguard. These wings were 
thrown back somewhat, which may account for the 
popular idea of the half -moon. In the centre, slightly 
ahead of them, and covered by the wings, were the 
store-ships and light craft. 

The commander-in-chief, now joined by several 
additional vessels variously estimated as numbering 
from eight to eleven, attacked the Levantine squadron, 
Howard in the Ark (800 tons) tackling La Rata Coronada 
(820 tons) as he passed, his followers doing the same 
as they came up in line. The Lord Admiral then 


The Story of the British Navy 

proceeded to pay his attentions to the Biscayan 
squadron, on the left, and two galleons met him broad- 
side on. Their endeavour was to come to close quarters, 
but in this they were thwarted. Time and time again 
Howard, Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher passed by 
and returned, pouring a withering fire into the vitals 
of Admiral Juan Martinez de Recalde's flagship and 
her consort, and completely cutting them off. Un- 
fortunately the appearance of Medina Sidonia's San 
Martin and other 'ships compelled Howard to abandon 
the fight after considerable damage had been done. 

Trouble also came for the Spaniards in another 
direction. The flagship of Pedro de Valdes, admiral 
of the Andalusian squadron, in attempting to go to 
the rescue of Recalde, got into collision with two vessels, 
and an explosion occurred on the San Salvador that 
set her on fire, did a vast amount of damage, and put 
her out of action. Howard now attempted to cut off 
the disabled ships, but Medina Sidonia's intervention 
prevented him from pressing the attack, and he was 
obliged to withdraw. 

" We had them in chase," wrote Drake to Lord 
Henry Seymour, in command of the squadron based 
on Dover, " and so coming upon them there hath 
passed some cannon shot between some of our fleet 
and some of them, and as far as we perceive they are 
determined to sell their lives with blows. The fleet 
of the Spaniards is somewhat above a hundred sail, 
many great ships ; but truly I think not half of them 

Several vessels stood by the Neustra Senora del 
Rosario, which had been in collision, and Medina 
Sidonia endeavoured to give her a tow. Stormy weather 
and the Duke's anxiety to press on led to her abandon- 

Fighting Spain in the Channel 

ment. During the night Drake, following the Armada 
and leading the English fleet, saw several ships going 
down Channel. Putting out the poop-lantern which 
guided the vessels following him, he gave chase, thinking 
that the Spaniards were doubling back. After finding 
that they were traders he came across the abandoned 
Rosario. Don Pedro surrendered, and the prize was sent 
into Weymouth. This is Drake's own story, but there 
were others who stoutly maintained that the action 
was deliberately planned. His mysterious disappear- 
ance certainly threw the fleet into some confusion. 
A little later the San Salvador, badly damaged by the 
explosion and unable to keep up with the remainder 
of the fleet, was abandoned. She was taken by Hawkins, 
and although leaking badly, duly arrived at Weymouth. 

No further fighting occurred until the 23rd, when 
the two fleets were off Portland Bill. Frobisher's 
Triumph and five other ships were isolated near the 
land, and Medina Sidonia sought to cut them off. 
He might have succeeded in this had not the wind 
veered from north-east to west, giving the English 
the weather-gauge. They put up so splendid a fight 
that the hopes of the Spanish for close action were 
completely shattered. Frobisher held the attacking 
galleons and galleasses at bay until Howard got into 
touch with him, when the Duke resumed his course 
up Channel in the direction of the Isle of Wight, his 
dogged enemies following in his wake. The Santa Ana 
had been badly handled by the English, and Medina 
Sidonia's own flagship had received a broadside which 
had wrought considerable devastation on board. 

A few shots at long range were exchanged on the 
24th, but Howard was in no humour to give battle 
until he received the munitions of which he was starved. 


The Story of the British Navy 

Off Dunnose, between St Catherine's Point and Culver 
Cliff, with scarcely a puff of wind to aid the competitors, 
fighting began again on the following day. The Spanish 
admiral sent a swift vessel to inform Parma that he 
was approaching, and urging him to join hands and 
accomplish their purpose. Sailing in four squadrons, 
Howard in the Ark and Hawkins in the Victory forming 
the centre, Frobisher in the Triumph the left, and 
Drake in the Revenge the right, Howard first paid 
attention to a galleon which had been unable to keep up 
with the others, and as the wind was too light for any 
of his large ships to overtake her, he ordered some of 
Hawkins's vessels to be towed by rowers in the direction 
of the San Luis. The tow-boats received so warm a 
reception at the hands of the Spaniards that the crews 
were obliged to cast off. By this time another galleon 
and several galleasses were endeavouring to come to 
the help of the San Luis, but the Ark and others of 
Howard's squadron had also started, and a duel of 
sorts ensued. One or two of the ships on both sides 
were somewhat roughly handled, but our information 
about the action is scanty. Whereas Howard fought 
at a range that precluded boarding, Medina Sidonia 
tried to engage him at close quarters more suited to 
his smaller guns. " A hot fray," wrote Hawkins, 
" wherein some store of powder was spent and, after 
all, little done," but no invasion of the Isle of Wight 
took place. The Spaniards broke off the fight and 
proceeded up Channel, followed by Howard. In the 
evening of the 27th the Armada was anchored off the 
French coast between Calais and Gravelines, with 
Howard watching to seaward, and reinforced by three 
dozen ships under Lord Henry Seymour and Sir William 

Fighting Spain in the Channel 

Medina Sidonia sent a further urgent message to 
the Duke of Parma begging him to put to sea. This the 
latter was unable to do, for an efficient Dutch squadron 
under Justinus of Nassau was waiting to deal with his 
transports immediately they issued from Nieuport, 
Sluys, and Dunkirk. 

" Most joyful I shall be," Parma had written to 
Philip, " to see myself with these soldiers on English 
ground, where, with God's help, I hope to accomplish 
your Majesty's demands." Though he could do nothing 
but sit tight, his naval colleague was within seven 
leagues of his destination, despite the harrying of the 
English sea-dogs and the fighting of three actions. 

On the following day Howard received munitions. 
Something also came to hand for Medina Sidonia. It 
was a dispatch from Parma saying that he would not 
be ready for another week, and that before the army 
of invasion could make exit it would be necessary 
to remove the menace of the Dutch ships blockading 
the mouths of the estuaries. 



The Flight of the Armada 

We have the army of Spain before us, and mind, with the 
grace of God, to wrestle or fall with them. DRAKE 

IN Dover Harbour certain rods were in pickle for 
the Spaniards. A number of old vessels had taken 
on highly inflammable cargoes chiefly consisting of 
tar-barrels and fagots. These fire-ships, as they were 
called, were the rough and ready torpedoes of the 
old-time Navy. Drake had used them with terrible 
effect at Vera Cruz, and they were to be brought into 
service time and time again. The idea was simple and 
obvious enough. Manned by volunteers, the fire-ship 
was used when the enemy was to windward. At great 
risk she was taken as near as possible, her helm fixed 
so that she would keep in the desired direction, and 
then set on fire, the crew making their escape as best 
they could. She was first cousin to the famous Q boats 
of the Great War, which looked like weather-beaten 
old tramps and turned out to be heavily armed men- 

At the council held on board the Ark it was decided 
to send to Dover for these engines of destruction. 
Sir Henry Palmer set off to get them. When he had 
gone some one remarked that he would not be in time 
to catch the tide, and it was on wind and tide that 
success or failure mainly depended. It was immediately 
decided to try the experiment that night. To-morrow 

The Flight of the Armada 

might be too late. Drake offered a ship, and seven 
others were promptly earmarked. Then began the job 
of getting as much combustible stuff on board as was to 
hand in the limited time at their disposal. At midnight 
all was ready. Medina Sidonia was not caught napping. 
His patrols were out. So far they had seen nothing. 
Suddenly eight blazing ships were bearing down on the 
Armada. In their haste to get away from these terrors 
of the night cables were cut, collisions were frequent, 
and the stately lines of a short time before were no 
longer either stately or lines. Yet the fire-ships as 
such were damp squibs. No Spanish vessel was touched 
by the consuming fire. With the dawn the Spanish 
fleet was in a state of confusion. The Armada had 
been rooted out. The San Martin fired guns for 
the ships to anchor. This most of them could not 
do because their tackle was at the bottom. In its 
sequel, therefore, the work of the fire-ships was 
successful. The flagship was attended by a few 
galleons, and four galleasses were endeavouring to 
get under the guns of Calais Castle, but the remainder 
of the Armada was scattered abroad to the north- 
east, off Gravelines. 

On July 22nd it was discovered that the San Lorenzo, 
the flagship of Don Hugo de Moncada, which had come 
into collision with one of the Levant galleons in the 
confusion of the previous night, had driven ashore. 
Howard marked her for his own, but knowing the 
dangerous nature of the ground, cast off his long-boat 
with fifty or sixty men, an example followed by another 
ship. They were received by a hail of shot from the 
musketeers, who fired from the cover of the bulwarks, 
while the English soldiers and sailors were without 
the slightest protection. When Moncada was killed 


The Story of the British Navy 

everybody on board completely lost their heads. The 
majority of the men jumped overboard, and while some 
escaped by swimming ashore, many were drowned. 
Then two " handkerchers upon two rapiers " were 
hoisted in token of surrender. Those who had refused 
to desert the ship were sent to Dover. 

Meanwhile Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher were 
after far more important fry. The Spanish commander 
was in an isolated group of half a dozen ships, but doing 
his best to overtake his scattered squadrons. Then 
he changed his plan, and sending a small vessel to tell 
them to rejoin him, awaited the coming of the English. 
As each of Drake's ships drew near they fired a broad- 
side at point-blank range at the San Martin, and 
then proceeded in the direction of the main fleet. For 
a time both Hawkins and Frobisher confined their 
attention to the group which Drake had just left, and 
the burden and heat of the day fell mainly on the 
intrepid man of Devon who had singed the King of 
Spain's beard. While Howard and Seymour were going 
to the assistance of Hawkins and Frobisher, none 
came to El Draque, who held on with dogged tenacity 
while Medina Sidonia's squadrons endeavoured to rally 
to the Duke's support. 

" God hath given us so good a day in forcing the 
enemy so far to leeward," Drake communicated to 
Walsingham, " as I hope in God the Prince of Parma 
and the Duke of Sidonia shall not shake hands this 
few days ; and whensoever they shall meet, I believe 
that neither of them will greatly rejoice of this day's 
service." " The fight," wrote Wynter to the same, 
" continued from nine of the clock until six of the clock 
at night, in the which time the Spanish array bore away 
N.N.E., or north by east as much as they could, keeping 

The Flight of the Armada 

company one with another. ... I deliver it to your 
honour upon the credit of a poor gentleman, that out 
of my ship was shot, 500 shot of a demi-cannon, culverin, 
and demi-culverin ; and when I was furthest off in 
discharging any of the pieces, I was not out of the 
shot of their harquebus, and most times within speech 
of one another ; and surely every man did well. No 
doubt the slaughter and hurt they received was great, 
as time will discover it ; and when every man was 
weary with labour, and our cartridges spent, and 
munitions wasted I think in some altogether we 
ceased, and followed the enemy." 

" In our last fight with the enemy, before Gravelines, 
the 29th of July," Howard tells Walsingham, " we sunk 
three of their ships, and made some go near the shore, 
so leak, as they were not able to live at sea. After that 
fight, notwithstanding that our powder and shot was 
well near all spent, we set on a brag countenance and 
gave them chase, as though we had wanted nothing." 

The three ships mentioned by the Lord Admiral 
were all lost during a sudden squall, when the fight 
was broken off. During it the Maria Juan capsized, 
and the San Mateo and the San Felipe, both of which 
had been badly mauled, were abandoned, and after- 
ward captured. They drifted on to the shoals, a fate 
which Medina Sidonia was informed awaited the rest 
of the Armada unless he ordered it into the North 

On the following day he noted, " The enemy 
remained aloof, seeing that the whole Armada must 
be lost." Though a change of wind saved him from the 
banks of Zeeland, he had lost touch with Parma. The 
die was cast in the cabin of the San Martin. While 
there was much grumbling and indignation on the 


The Story of the British Navy 

part of the fighting minority, it was decided at a council 
of war that the fleet should return to Spain via the 
north of Scotland. It might be a hazardous proceeding, 
but neither ships nor men were in condition to continue 
hostilities. No fewer than 600 men had been killed 
in the late battle, and 800 wounded. Many more were 
sick. Damages and leaks were numerous ; shot and 
powder were alarmingly low. For that matter Howard 
was also awaiting munitions and stores, and by reason 
of their absence was equally disinclined to fight. While 
the Lord Admiral knew that his wants would be supplied, 
Medina Sidonia was equally certain that his would 
not. Wynter and Seymour were now to co-operate 
with Justinus in the blockade of Parma's ports, while 
Howard and the others followed the Armada, Drake 
with the vanguard. Off the Firth of Forth the Navy 
and its auxiliaries bade farewell to the fleeing enemy. 
Howard had proved to his own satisfaction that the 
Duke's one and only purpose was to get home as 
speedily as possible. A final fight was proposed, but 
got no further. There " was not munition enough 
to make half a fight." 

When the Armada reached Spanish ports it had 
suffered the loss of no fewer than sixty-four vessels, 
of which only seven were accounted for ere Medina 
Sidonia turned tail. The remainder perished by ship- 
wreck. Probably 10,000 men lost their lives, including 
those massacred in Ireland. " The Spaniards," writes 
an English officer, " were so miserably distressed coming 
to land, that one man named Melaghlin McCabbe 
killed eighty with his gallow glass axe." 

A contemporary ballad by Thomas Deloney may 
also be applicable to a later day and generation. It 
begins as follows : 

The Flight of the Armada 

O noble England, fall doune upon thy knee, 

And praise thy God with thankful! hart, which still 

maintaineth thee. 

The forraine forces, that seekes thy utter spoile, 
Shall then through his especiall grace be brought to 

shamefull foile. 

With mightie power they come unto our coast : 
To over runne our countrie quite, they make their 

brags and boast. 

In strength of men they set their onely stay, 
But we upon the Lord our God will put our trust alway. 

Statesmen and politicians meddled with things 
they did not understand in Elizabeth's day, as in ours. 
Doubtless with the best intention in the world, the 
Privy Council asked the question, " What causes are 
there why the Spanish navy hath not been boarded 
by the queen's ships ? And though some of the ships 
of Spain may be thought too huge to be boarded by 
the English, yet some of the queen's ships are thought 
very able to have boarded divers of the meaner ships 
of the Spanish navy." What the Council failed to 
appreciate was the fact that with superior guns and 
gunners, and with more manageable ships, there was 
no need for the old-fashioned hand-to-hand fighting. 
To have grappled with the Armada would have been 
to play the enemy's game. The time-honoured notion 
of many soldiers and few sailors had become obsolete 
in the English Navy, though not in the Spanish. Thus 
the San Martin had approximately 177 seamen and 300 
soldiers, while the Ark had 300 seamen and 125 soldiers. 

Philip fully appreciated what the Council did not. 
He had noted in his orders to Medina Sidonia, " You 
are especially to take notice that the enemy's object 
will be to engage at a distance, on account of the 
advantage which they have from their artillery and the 


The Story of the British Navy 

offensive fireworks with which they will be provided ; 
and, on the other hand, the object on our side should 
be to close and grapple and engage hand to hand." 
Powder, shot, and provisions were short, and precluded 
further fighting after Gravelines. 

How completely the rising naval power of England 
was feared by Philip was shown in the year following 
the defeat of the Armada. He forbade his treasure- 
ships to return from America for dread of their being 
captured. For seven long and dreary months Hawkins 
and Frobisher watched off the Azores and Canaries and 
failed to make a single capture. 

There is no more dramatic event in British history 
than the last fight of the Revenge, Drake's old flagship. 
In 1591 she was the flagship of Sir Richard Grenville, 
Lord Thomas Howard's second-in-command on the 
station mentioned immediately above, and a nephew 
of Lord Howard of Effingham. Philip could no longer 
further delay his sea-borne commerce because he 
required the money. He therefore equipped a fleet 
which was to pick up the Spanish Plate Fleet in mid- 
ocean and convoy it home. Howard had only half a 
dozen ships, while Don Alonso de Bazan had over fifty. 

When the commander-in-chief was watering his 
fleet in Flores Bay, the Moonshine pinnace put in with 
a warning from the Earl of Cumberland, then engaged 
in attacking commerce off the Spanish coast, to the 
effect that Don Alonso was approaching. The informa- 
tion came at the eleventh hour. Indeed, Howard had 
scarcely time to get outside, and in order that the men 
on shore might not be deserted he left the Revenge 
and a victualler to wait for them. When Sir Richard 
was ready to clear the Spaniards were between him 
and Howard. The victualler, running to leeward of 

The Flight of the Armada 

the enemy, got away, and had the fiery son of Bideford 
liked he could have followed suit. In the peculiar 
etiquette of the sea such a course would have been an 
acknowledgment of inferiority. Despite the entreaties of 
some of his officers, he steadfastly negatived their counsel 
to run before the wind, " utterly refusing," according 
to Sir Walter Raleigh, " to turn from his enemies, 
alleging that he would rather choose to die than to 
dishonour himself, his country, and her Majesty's 
ship persuading his company that he would pass 
through the two divisions of them." Like Cradock 
off Coronel, he played a man's game. He would " pass 
through two squadrons in spite of them, and enforce 
that of Seville to give him way." The first galleon to 
meet him was the San Felipe, which by skilful handling 
got to windward and took the breeze out of his sails. 
The fight began at three o'clock in the afternoon 
and was continued throughout the night. " Fifteen 
naval armadas," writes Raleigh, " were brilliantly 
repulsed by this one English ship, which received 
in the course of the action eight hundred shot of great 
artillery, besides many assaults and entries." Twice 
Grenville was wounded, but refused to go below. Lord 
Thomas Howard did what he could to draw off some 
of the enemy vessels from his gallant colleague, but 
could do nothing to prevent his second-in-command 
from being surrounded. At length, his ship leaking 
like a sieve, her masts gone by the board, the upper 
deck torn away, and forty dead, Grenville ordered the 
master-gunner to be prepared to blow up the battered 
hulk with the remaining barrel of gunpowder. Then 
he addressed those of the crew who were still un- 
wounded, saying that " as they had, like valiant, 
resolute men, repulsed so many enemies, they should 


The Story of the British Navy 

not now shorten the honour of their nation by pro- 
longing their own lives by a few hours or a few days. 
The master-gunner readily agreed, and divers others ; 
but the captain and the master were of another opinion, 
and besought Sir Richard to have care of them, alleging 
that the Spanish would be as ready to entertain a 
composition [viz. ransom] as they were willing to offer 
the same ; and that there being divers and sufficient 
valiant men yet living, and whose wounds were not 
mortal, they might do their country and prince accept- 
able service hereafter." 

The master of the Revenge was rowed to Don Alonso 
de Bazan's flagship, and the Admiral agreed that the 
officers should be released on payment of a ransom 
and the crew returned to England as soon as practic 
able. As Grenville was borne away from his flagship he 
fainted, but shortly afterward recovered consciousness. 
" Here die I, Richard Grenville," he is stated to have 
muttered with his dying breath, " with a joyful heart 
and a quiet mind, for that I have ended my life as a 
good soldier ought to do, who has fought for his country, 
queen, religion, and honour. Wherefore my soul joy- 
fully departeth out of this body, and shall always 
leave behind it an everlasting fame of a true soldier, 
who hath done his duty as he was bound to do. But 
the others of my company have done as traitors and 
dogs, for which they shall be reproached all their lives, 
and leave a shameful name for ever." 

Two Spanish ships had been sunk, another had 
to be beached, and a fourth was a wreck before the 
Revenge was abandoned. Of Philip's Spanish Plate 
Fleet over a hundred foundered or were wrecked in a 
gale which overtook them after they had been met by 
the convoy, forty-eight hours following the fight. 


From Commonwealth to Revolution 

Time, and the Ocean, and some fostering star 
In high cabal have made us what we are. 


AT Elizabeth's death in 1603, according to Mon- 
son, " the last admiral she had ever sent to 
sea," there were forty-one ships in the Navy, 
of which two were of 1,000 tons, three of 900 tons, 
three of 800 tons, twenty-five of from 700 tons to 100 
tons, and eight under the latter figure. At the close 
of the reign of James I the number bad been reduced 
to thirty -three, the largest reaching 1,400 tons and the 
smallest 80 tons. Merchant vessels still played their 
part in the service when occasion required. 

The first of the Stuarts, though deeply interested 
in shipbuilding, was a peace-loving soul, who used 
the service for warring against pirates instead of 
against nations. Even the Navy itself had " become 
a ragged regiment of common rogues," according to a 
contemporary. Peace was made with Spain, but already 
the growing sea-power of Holland was causing un- 
easiness, though she dared not show her flag within 
sight of a ship of the English Navy, at least in the 
Narrow Seas. On one occasion Sir William Monson 
sighted a Dutch squadron whose commander merely 
dipped his colours. This was not at all to the Admiral's 
liking. He peremptorily ordered them not to be shown 


The Story of the British Navy 

at all, " for rather than he would suffer him to wear 
his flag in view of so many nations as were to behold 
it, he resolved to bury himself in the sea." The 
result was entirely satisfactory. 

Under Phineas Pett finer vessels were built, and 
1610 witnessed the launching at Woolwich of the 
largest warship yet constructed in England. " The 
keel," it is recorded, " was 114 feet long, and the cross- 
beam forty-four in length ; she is to carry sixty-four 
pieces of great ordnance, and is of the burthen of 1,400 
tons. This royal ship is double built, and is most 
sumptuously adorned within and without with all 
manner of carving, painting, and gilding, being in all 
respects the greatest and goodliest ship that ever was 
built in England ; and this glorious ship the King 
gave unto his son Henry Prince of Wales." This was 
the Prince Royal. The first merchant vessel of 1,200 
tons, the Trade's Increase, was also built at the same 

Unfortunately the Navy was grossly mismanaged, 
the fleet was undermanned and ill provisioned, cor- 
ruption was rampant, sums were paid for ships that 
did not exist, offices were sold, and when a commission 
was eventually appointed to go into the matter it 
found, among other disgraceful discoveries, " that 
neither due survey is taken of ought that cometh in, 
nor orderly warrant given for most that goeth out, 
nor any particular account made, nor now possible 
to be made, of any one main worke or service that is 

The names of Pym, Hampden, and Glanville are 
honoured in the annals of the Empire. When Charles I 
issued a writ for ship-money to be paid by inland as 
well as by maritime counties he did so because of what 

From Commonwealth to Revolution 

he considered to be the urgency for a larger fleet. 
Hitherto shires boasting no coastline had been exempted, 
and these men resisted because there was no precedent 
as regards the more fortunate inland counties, and 
even the ports had not been called upon for the purpose 
in time of peace. It is only fair to add that however 
unconstitutional the King's methods may have been, 
the money raised was actually spent on the Navy, 
and that, as Admiral P. H. Colomb says, " the superior 
classes of ships which Charles prepared and built had 
a most material effect on the course of the Dutch wars. 
In the first war the complaints of the Dutch admirals 
were unceasing as to the inferiority of the Dutch ships 
to those of the English." 1 

When the Civil War flamed up there was, of course, 
no trained army, but, what was vastly more impor- 
tant, there was a fleet, and this was secured by the 
Parliament. The Royalists could therefore not rely 
on assistance from overseas, and the command of the 
sea meant the command of the customs. The Navy 
could besiege England for its own side and bring 
reinforcements and stores to the Puritan forces. The 
Earl of Warwick was made commander - in - chief ; 
those officers who did not throw in their lot with the 
Parliament promptly found their occupation gone. 
Not only the mariners, but nearly every seaport sided 
with the Roundheads. The Navy patrolled the coast 
of England and Ireland with a thoroughness never 
before attempted, hiring merchant-ships to augment 
the regular men-of-war. In 1643 no fewer than eighty 
vessels were in commission. After the first Civil War, 
in 1648 to be exact, a part of the fleet mutinied. The 
squadron in the Downs refused to be placed under the 

i Naval Warfare (2nd ed., 1895), p. 81. 


The Story of the British Navy 

command of a military man, and on his arrival boldly 
put him on shore. Yet it will be recollected that 
only a comparatively few years had passed since the 
soldier had invariably held that position. Although 
the Lord Admiral Warwick took the place of Colonel 
Rainsborough, the rebels refused to come to terms, 
and helped to secure the castles of Deal, Walmer, and 
Sandown for the Royalists, a short-lived triumph 
that Fairfax speedily wiped out. The mutineers 
escaped to Helvoetsluys, in Holland, where their ships 
were handed over to the Prince of Wales, then a 
refugee, and subsequently placed under the command 
of Lord Willoughby of Parham, who, ironically enough, 
was no more a sailor than the despised and disowned 
Rainsborough. After making a voyage to England 
and being neither attacked nor disposed to attack, 
the squadron returned to Holland. Several of the ships 
afterward came back to throw in their lot with Warwick, 
leaving only seven behind. The latter were placed under 
Prince Rupert. 

Three weeks after the execution of the King Warwick 
was dismissed, and the command of the Fleet passed 
to three colonels, Edward Popham, Robert Blake, 
and Richard Deane, who became * Admirals and 
Generals at Sea.' The Commonwealth certainly did not 
neglect the Navy at the expense of the Army. An 
era of vigorous shipbuilding set in under the Petts. 
Thus at the end of 1653 we find no fewer than 132 
vessels in the service, in addition to a dozen fire-ships 
and victuallers. It was during this period also that 
the idea of dividing different classes of ships into 
' rates ' appears. First-rates, for instance, were from 
891 to 1,556 tons, armed with from 64 to 104 
guns, and carrying from 350 to 700 men. The sixth- 

From Commonwealth to Revolution 

rate, and the lowest, consisted of vessels of from 55 
to 255 tons, mounting from 6 to 36 guns, and worked 
by from 25 to 130 men. Of this large number of ships 
only three were of the largest size, while sixty-three 
almost 50 per cent. were fourth-rates of from 301 
to 700 tons, carrying 28 to 50 guns. 

A much-appreciated increase in pay was granted, 
a fairer distribution of prize-money was arranged, 
rations were improved, and peculation at the dock- 
yards severely dealt with. 

In accordance with their commission to " oppose 
and suppress whoever maintains the title of Charles 
Stuart, eldest son to the late King, or any of his issue 
claiming a title to the Crown," Popham, Blake, and 
Deane duly set out to scour the seas. With great good 
fortune Rupert escaped from Helvoetsluys, after having 
indulged in a little profitable piracy, sailed down 
Channel, and duly made Kinsale, then a Royalist 
stronghold like Jersey and the Scilly Isles. On occasion 
" the Devil," as Rupert's sister called him, issued forth 
and preyed on commerce, and he also succeeded in 
relieving the Scilly Isles. After the loss of a ship and 
the appearance of a blockading squadron under Sir 
George Ayscue, however, there was less heart and 
lesser chance for such tactics, and when Ayscue was 
succeeded by Blake and Deane the Royalist Admiral 
must have recognized that his position was well nigh 
hopeless. Yet fortune attended him, for heavy weather 
compelled the vessels of the Parliament to withdraw. 
Rupert seized his opportunity, and abandoning his 
prizes, sailed for Portugal, eventually reaching Lisbon 
with several English vessels he had captured on the 

At the moment English seas were clear, but such 


The Story of the British Navy 

urgent complaints were made to the Government 
that the Council of State decided to fit out a winter 
fleet. It was put in charge of Blake, and consisted of 
twelve vessels, a number subsequently raised to twenty 
by the appearance of additional ships under Popham. 
" The suppressing of pirates, advantage of trade, 
encouraging of merchants, and securing their shipping 
at sea ; also to pursue, seize, scatter, fight with, or 
destroy all the ships of the revolted fleet." Such was 
the main programme, which also included sundry 
items, such as the insistence on the lowering of the 
topsails of foreign ships by way of salute, and that 
Rupert was to be captured although he sought asylum 
in the harbour of a state at peace with England. The 
Prince and his piratical crew were to be regarded as 
enemies of the human race hostes humani generis. 
Napoleon was put in the same category in 1815. 

Blake's negotiations with the Portuguese Govern- 
ment were tedious and unsatisfactory. He would have 
no more of them. When the Brazil Fleet left the Tagus 
he promptly seized the English merchant-ships which 
had been hired for the purpose of reinforcing it, and 
secured their cargoes. King John appealed to Rupert 
for help. The latter made as bold a show as was possible 
with the small force at his command, but beyond 
taking his ships for an airing achieved nothing. Blake 
retaliated by capturing twelve ships of the incoming 
Plate Fleet and sinking the unlucky thirteenth. 

The Tagus was no longer healthy for Rupert. Seizing 
his opportunity while Blake and Popham were making 
their way to the Spanish port of San Lucar de 
Barrameda to refit and get rid of the prizes, " the 
Devil " slipped out, captured an English merchantman 
sank others, and finally appeared off Cartagena and 

From Commonwealth to Revolution 

entered the harbour. The Admiral and General took 
diplomatic measures first, but was informed by the 
Spanish governor that it was a neutral port, and that 
" they had the right to protect all ships that came 
into their dominions ; that if the Admiral were forced 
in thither, he should find the same security." Blake 
was not " forced in thither," but boldly sank, captured, 
or drove ashore all the vessels with the exception of 
Rupert's ship and another, which had sailed for Toulon 
owing to a storm. Blake exacted a heavy toll of French 
prizes for this accommodation, and when he returned 
to England his successor William Penn continued the 
work. After a roving and highly adventurous career 
Rupert reached Nantes. With the accidental burning 
of his sole remaining ship his squadron disappeared. 

Blake was next employed in assisting in the reduction 
of the Scilly Isles. This successfully accomplished, 
he was appointed to the squadron in the Downs, and 
subsequently helped to capture Jersey. In the same 
year, 1651, Sir George Ayscue set out with a squadron 
to reduce Barbados, which surrendered during the fol- 
lowing year. Virginia also threw in her lot with the 

It would have been surprising if the Navigation Act 
had failed to stir up bad blood with the Dutch, who 
had become the ocean carriers of the world. No cargoes 
could be imported from America, Asia, or Africa in 
other than English vessels, .and no goods from any 
European country could be brought over except in 
English ships or those of the country producing the 
goods. The right of search was also retained, and an 
enemy's goods could be seized even when carried in 
neutral vessels. 

The refusal of Tromp to salute the Commonwealth 


The Story of the British Navy 

flag in the Narrow Seas brought about the First Dutch 
War of 1652-4. "The English," said the Dutch 
ambassador, " are about to attack a mountain of gold ; 
we are about to attack a mountain of iron." On May 
19, 1652, Blake saw Tromp with some forty sail off 
Dover. " Being come within three leagues of them," 
writes the former, " they weighed and stood by a wind 
to the eastward, we supposing their intention was to 
leave us to avoid the dispute of the flag. About two 
hours after they altered their course and bore directly 
with us, Van Tromp the headmost ; whereupon we 
lay and put ourselves into a fighting posture, judging 
they had a resolution to engage. Being come within 
musket-shot I gave order to fire at his flag, which was 
done thrice. After the third shot he let fly a broadside 
at us." 

The battle lasted for five hours, Blake in the fifty- 
gun ship the James bearing the brunt of it. The night 
was spent in refitting, the rigging and sails being 
" extremely shattered." On the following morning 
" we espied the Dutch fleet about four leagues distance 
from ours towards the coast of France, and by advice 
of a Council of War it was resolved to ply to windward 
to keep the weather-gauge, and we are now ready 
to let fall our anchor this tide. What course the Dutch 
fleet steers we do not well know, nor can we tell what 
harm we have done them, but we suppose one of them 
to be sunk, and another of thirty guns we have taken, 
with the captains of both. . . . We have six men of 
ours slain, and nine or ten men desperately wounded, 
and twenty-five more not without danger. . . . We 
have received above seventy great shot in our hull 
and masts, in our sails and rigging without number, 
being engaged with the whole body of the fleet for the 

From Commonwealth to Revolution 

space of four hours, and the mark at which they aimed. 
We must needs acknowledge a great mercy that we had 
no more harm, and our hope the righteous God will 
continue the same unto us if there do arise a war 
between us, they being first in the breach, and seeking 
an occasion to quarrel and watching, as it seems, an 
advantage to brave us upon our own coast, etc." 

The battle was not renewed, and the vessel which 
Blake presumed to have sunk was abandoned by 
Captain Lawson and recovered by the Dutch. 

The convoy system of gathering together a group of 
merchantmen and conducting them through a danger 
zone which obtained during the World War was merely 
the revival of a venerable institution. Its modern 
application met with considerably greater success 
than was often evident in the past. The First Dutch 
War consisted very largely, so far as England was 
concerned, of attacks on convoys. The necessity for 
protecting them was responsible for four of the seven 
battles fought. 

The quarrel, brought to a head by the fight off Dover, 
began by Blake's being sent north to take or sink the 
enemy's extensive herring-fleet, which was guarded by 
warships. Off Buchan Ness the erstwhile officer of 
militia captured about a hundred of the herring-busses, 
in addition to making prizes of a dozen frigates. On 
August 16, 1652, De Ruyter's fleet, convoying sixty 
merchant vessels, fell in with Sir George Ayscue's 
squadron. Although both sides claimed the victory, 
the Dutchman was able to detach two of his ships to 
escort the traders. They got safely away. Meanwhile 
Blake and Penn were busy capturing Dutch homeward- 
bound vessels to the number of seventeen. 

While Blake was victorious over De Witt in the battle 


The Story of the British Navy 

off the Kentish Knock, this did not prevent Martin 
Tromp setting off with seventy-three ships to guard a 
convoy of 300 merchantmen. Meeting Blake, who 
had only thirty-seven sail, he defeated him, and the 
traders went on their way rejoicing. The Dutch admiral 
then picked up 250 vessels awaiting convoy up Channel. 
The General and Admiral, greatly reinforced, met him 
off Portland. The English are said to have taken forty 
ships of the convoy and four warships. In addition, 
three were sunk, and one was blown up. The victors 
destroyed one of their own vessels to prevent her being 

Once again the intrepid Tromp eluded his enemy 
and convoyed 200 ships to the north of Scotland 
without being molested. In addition, 300 homeward- 
bound vessels arrived safely in the Texel. Notwith- 
standing the wonderful escapes of the merchantmen, 
during the war of twenty-two months the English 
claimed to have captured 1,700 vessels, valued at 

Cromwell's naval legacy to Charles II was 154 ships, 
including prizes, with a total tonnage of 57,463. To 
save expense, resort was had to coast fortifications. 
" All their care," as Mr Secretary Pepys notes, " they 
now take is to fortify themselves, and are not ashamed 
of it." In the Second Dutch War, which began in 1665 
and ended in 1667, the enemy adopted an entirely 
different policy. Moreover, they were helped by a 
French fleet. Believing that it was impossible to fight 
and protect commerce at the same time, the Dutch 
prohibited sea-borne trade, excluding homeward-bound 
ships. Off Lowestoft and the North Foreland the Dutch 
were worsted ; in the Four Days' Battle in the Straits 
of Dover the English were compelled to retire with 

From Commonwealth to Revolution 

the loss, of a score of ships. De Ruyter disgraced us 
by holding possession of the mouth of the Thames 
for a few days, but in the end the Dutch learned, as 
De Witt had remarked, that " Englishmen might be 
killed, and English ships burnt, but the English courage 
was invincible." When peace came each side retained 
what it had won, but England had scored heavily 
in another direction. In 1668 it was estimated by 
Sir James Child that English merchant shipping had 
doubled in two years. 

At the conclusion of the Third Dutch War, in which 
we were helped by France, and despite De Ruyter's 
victories at Solebay and off the Texel, it was evident 
that the sailors of Holland were no longer " the wagoners 
of all seas." 

To sum up this brief survey, the Dutch Wars 
emphasize the importance of maritime trade, even when 
the country concerned is not an island ; indicate the 
means used in a great naval conflict to maintain 
ebmmerce carried by ships and its complete break- 
down ; and show the failure of an attempt to make 
Land - Power do the work of Sea - Power. It is 
interesting to note that it was during the Second 
Dutch War that the line-of-battle was first adopted 
in naval warfare. Blake, at heart a soldier, enforced 
a method which won the unqualified praise of Clarendon, 
although he was a political enemy. The Earl tells us 
that Blake " was the first man who declined the old 
track . . . and despised those rules which had long 
been in practice, to keep his ship and his men out of 
danger, which had been held in former times a point 
of great ability and circumspection ; as if the principal 
art requisite in the captain of a ship had been to be 
sure to come home safe again." 



When Dutch William Reigned 

Take it all in all, a Ship of the Line is the most honourable 
thing that man, as a gregarious animal, has ever produced. 


IT is one of the many ironies of history that James II, 
who had been Lord High Admiral and taken part 
in the naval war against the Dutch, did much to 
restore the fleet which was the main instrument in 
the loss of his throne. In the autumn of 1688 it consisted 
of 173 vessels, of which ninety-two were in commission. 
After many warnings, the King at last realized that 
invasion was contemplated. A squadron under Sir 
Roger Strickland was therefore detailed to watch the 
movements of the Dutch fleet, but the Admiral was too 
weak as a commander and too strong as -a proselytizer 
of the Roman Catholic religion. When the sailors of the 
sparsely manned ships were on the verge of mutiny 
the force was greatly augmented and placed under 
Lord Dartmouth. It was evident, however, that many 
of the officers were also disaffected and ripe for a change, 
and on November 5, 1688, the Prince of Orange landed 
at Brixham without opposition. He had set sail from 
Helvoetsluys when Dartmouth was lying off the coast 
of Essex. An attempt was made to follow, but it was 
so faint-hearted that on the day the King's son-in-law 
reached Torbay the English squadron was no nearer 
than Beachy Head. Not inappropriately Arthur Herbert, 

When Dutch William Reigned 

who had been dismissed from his position of Rear- 
Admiral of England, commanded the Deliverer's fleet 
as Lieutenant Admiral General. Our constitutional 
monarchy dates from the time of William III, who 
became the exemplar of the famous doctrine of the 
balance of power in Europe. 

When the French Navy, fostered by Richelieu and 
Colbert, entered into rivalry on the seas, it was against 
Spain that its efforts were chiefly directed. In 1689 
France was the third naval Power in Europe, and when 
hostilities broke out in that year folk were not wanting 
who prophesied that the struggle would be both long 
and bitter. In the first move of the war-game at sea 
the forces of Louis XIV were successful. James had 
already landed at Kinsale, and Herbert was too late 
to preclude the disembarking of reinforcements from 
a second squadron which had followed in the wake 
of the other shortly afterward. A long-distance battle 
was fought, during the course of which an enemy vessel 
was set on fire, but otherwise Herbert signally failed, 
and allowed Chateaurenault to return to Ban try Bay, 
from whence he sailed for Brest after troops and stores 
had been landed from the transports. For this minor 
action Herbert was created Earl of Torrington. 

Encouraged by the ease with which James II had 
crossed and secured a foothold in Ireland, and the 
undoubted success of the second expedition, Louis XIV 
set about making elaborate preparations for invasion. 
Holland, no longer an enemy, sent a squadron of eighteen 
ships to help England, which on the approach of the 
French admiral Tourville with over seventy fighting 
ships had only thirty-two vessels immediately available. 
Torrington, who was in command, was taken by sur- 
prise. Unpreparedness in naval matters had led to 


The Story of the British Navy 

his resignation from the Board of Admiralty, " that 
since I could not prevent the mischief I might have 
no share in the blame." Although notoriously lacking 
in energy, hence his nickname of * Lord Tarry-in-Town,' 
he at least had the courage of his convictions in the 
matter of what he considered to be an adequate service. 

Knowing that the major part of the Army was in 
Ireland with William, and looking forward to an 
immediate insurrection in behalf of the exiled King, 
Tourville sailed for the Isle of Wight and dropped 
anchor in Freshwater Bay. The allied fleet, then lying 
at St Helen's, weighed and dropped down to Dunnose. 
" We sailed this morning," Torrington writes on 
June 23, 1690, to the Earl of Nottingham, " but the 
wind taking us short we are not far from Donose. 
If the French have continued their station, we are 
not above five leagues asunder. Our fleet consists of 
50 men-of-war, and 20 fire-ships ; the odds are great, 
and you know it is not my fault. To-morrow will 
probably be the deciding day. Let them tremble at 
the consequence whose fault it was the fleet is no 
stronger ; for my part, I will, with God Almighty's 
help, do my duty, and I hope everybody here will 
do so too. If we are to expect any more Dutch, I hope 
they will be hastened to us ; it is not impossible they 
may come time enough for a share, because the sea 
is subject to accidents. We have as yet but 18 Dutch 
with us, after all De Witt's great promises." 

The reinforcements earnestly hoped for by Torrington 
arrived next day in the shape of three Dutch and two 
English ships. He started off early on the 25th, but was 
compelled to anchor owing to a thick sea-fog, which 
eventually lifted, and he bore down upon the enemy. 
On getting closer he came to the conclusion that it 

When Dutch William Reigned 

would be rash to seek an engagement, and this made 
him " very heartily give God thanks they declined the 
battle." At a council of war it was unanimously decided 
" to shun fighting with them, especially if they have 
the wind of us." Torrington's opinion was that the 
disparity between the forces was too great to hope for 
victory, and that if he fought he endangered " the 
losing of the fleet " and the quiet of the country ; 
" for if we are beaten, they being absolute masters of 
the sea, will be at great liberty of doing many things 
they dare not attempt whilst we observe them, and 
are in a possibility of joining Vice- Admiral Killigrew 
and our ships to the westward." Killigrew, it should 
be mentioned, was returning from the Mediterranean, 
and did not reach Plymouth until several days after 
Torrington had dispatched the letter from which the 
above quotations are made. Sir Cloudesley Shovel was 
ploughing his way through the Irish Sea to reinforce 
the commander-in-chief, but had not yet done so. As 
a last resort Torrington informed Nottingham that he 
would retire to the Gunfleet, north of the Thames, 
" the only place we can with any manner of probability 
make our party good with them [i.e. the enemy] in the 
condition we are in." 

This latter alternative was negatived by Nottingham. 
Rather than do it Torrington was to give battle, but 
he could go to the westward to secure a junction with 
his reinforcements, provided he did not " lose sight 
of the French fleet " or allow it to " get away without 
fighting." In his reply Torrington reiterated his 
conception of Sea - Power. " For whilst we observe 
the French, they cannot make any attempt either 
upon ships or shore, without running a great hazard ; 
and if we are beaten, all is exposed to their mercy." 


The Story of the British Navy 

A precisely similar idea seems to have obtained with 
Viscount Jellicoe at the battle of Jutland. " Although 
the battle squadrons of the Grand Fleet have only 
once for a few precious minutes engaged German ships ; 
although all opportunity of decisive battle has been 
denied them, yet they have from the beginning enjoyed 
all the fruits of a complete victory. If Germany had 
never built a Dreadnought, or if all German Dread- 
noughts had been sunk, the control and authority 
of the British Navy could not have been more effective. 
There has been no Trafalgar, but the full consequences 
of a Trafalgar have been continuously operative. . . . 
Without a battle we have all that the most victorious 
of battles could give us." Thus wrote the Right Hon. 
Winston Churchill toward the end of 1916, after he 
had ceased to be First Lord of the Admiralty. It is a 
repetition of Torrington's creed, though not that of 
Drake, Blake, or Nelson. 

In personal command of the centre (Red), with Sir 
Ralph Delaval in the rear (Blue), and the Dutch under 
Cullemburg in the van, Torrington began the battle 
of Beachy Head on June 30th. Delaval showed con- 
siderable spirit, but the Dutch squadron received most 
of the French fire because it got into close action, 
while the commander-in-chief, though he did not 
exactly display masterly inactivity, is deemed by many 
modern historians to have shown sound strategy in 
losing the battle. One badly damaged Dutch ship 
was captured. Torrington, after waiting for the turn 
of the tide, made eastward, but Tourville's pursuit 
lacked energy, and the English admiral got away. 
In order to do so Torrington was compelled to 
abandon an English ship and four Dutch vessels, 
first taking the precaution to set them on fire. 

When Dutch William Reigned 

After burning Teignmouth the French fleet returned 
to Brest. 

Torrington was court-martialled. " I have always 
said," he remarked, " that whilst we had a fleet in 
being, they would not dare to make an attempt " 
at invasion. This was the tenor of his defence, and 
despite much adverse criticism he won the day. 
Although acquitted, his commission was cancelled by 

By the spring of 1692 Louis had prepared another 
expedition. This time the English were ready in very 
truth, for whereas the Sun King had only thirty-eight 
sail-of-the-line armed with 2,712 guns and seven 
fire-ships immediately available, Admiral Edward 
Russell had sixty -three sail-of-the-line, while the Dutch 
squadron under Allemonde had thirty-six, making 
a total of ninety-nine men-of-war, in addition to over 
a dozen frigates and fire-ships, the whole force mounting 
nearly 7,000 guns. 

While the allied fleet was making in the direction 
of Cape Barfleur in thick weather it suddenly came 
across Tourville's forces heading for England. The 
French admiral's orders were to convoy the army of 
invasion if the coast was clear of the enemy, but if not 
to fight them and return for the transports when 
victory had attended his efforts. The battle lasted 
for seven hours, Tourville boldly attacking the centre, 
but no detailed description is possible, for Russell 
admitted that he could give " no particular account 
of things ; but the French were beaten. ..." While 
the French ships were slowly retreating Cloudesley 
Shovel broke through, but the dense fog and lack of 
wind prevented him from exacting a heavy toll. During 
the night both fleets anchored. In the morning the 


The Story of the British Navy 

enemy drifted away in the mist, the English following 
them with what speed they could. Three badly damaged 
French ships were run ashore to escape capture, one 
of them being the Soleil Royal of 104 guns, Tourville's 
flagship, though he transferred his flag to another 
vessel before she was abandoned. All were burned by 
the English. A little later the fire-ships accounted for 
seven more. Rooke, who took part in the destruction of 
some of these vessels, was knighted for his gallantry. 

For a time France was mainly represented at sea 
by privateers, though in 1693 Rooke with the Smyrna 
convoy of some 400 vessels was surprised by Tourville 
with a fleet of no fewer than eighty-six ships. As the 
English admiral had only twenty-three sail-of-the-line 
it is creditable that he was able to shield any of the 
merchantmen in his charge. Fortunately Tourville 
did not take full advantage of his enemy's weakness, 
and Rooke managed to save a goodly number, although 
nearly eighty vessels of various kinds were captured 
or destroyed. This severe lesson had one good effect 
in that it restored the position of Commander-in-Chief, 
which had been put in commission by Shovel, Killigrew, 
and Delaval, an impracticable theory of command 
which was tried and failed during the Great War of 
1914r-18 when the Allied War Council was created. 

England now reverted to combined naval and mili- 
tary attacks on French territory, though she showed 
herself ready to meet a French plan of invasion, con- 
templated but never realized, in 1695. Benbow attacked 
St Malo in the year of Rooke's disaster and failed. A 
few months later Brest was attacked by land and sea, 
and Dieppe and Havre were bombarded. Other towns 
were subjected to similar treatment, until in 1697 the 
Peace of Ryswick brought a cessation of hostilities. 


Boom-breaking at Vigo 

The Navy is the first, second, third, fourth, ad infinitum 
line of defence. FISHER 

ENGLAND had now taken up a position in the 
Mediterranean from which she did not withdraw 
until the nineteenth century, and she was in 
command of the Channel. The death of James II in 
1701 and the recognition of his son the ' Old 
Pretender ' as King of England by Louis XIV, after 
his acknowledgment of William, was one of many 
contributing causes of the War of the Spanish Suc- 
cession. It brought England in sharp conflict with 
France, Spain, and Bavaria, and caused the formation 
of a Grand Alliance consisting of England, Holland, 
the Empire, Austria, Prussia, and Hanover. If William 
was the soul of the coalition, Marlborough was the 
heart. The former died two months before the Peace 
of Ryswick was shattered. War broke out on May 4, 
1702, and an attack on Cadiz was decided on, Rooke 
commanding the fleet of thirty English and twenty 
Dutch sail-of-the-line, with the Duke of Ormonde 
as military commander. The place was bombarded, 
and Port St Mary plundered, but little else was done 
beside alienating the supporters of the Archduke 
Charles, whose claims to the Spanish throne were 
recognized by England. If Bishop Burnet is to be 
relied upon, the Admiral " spoke so coldly of the design 


The Story of the British Navy 

he went upon, before he sailed, that those who con- 
versed with him were apt to infer that he meant to do 
the enemy as little harm as possible." Whatever truth 
there may or may not be in this assertion, the separate 
councils of war held by the two services were certainly 
not conducive to frankness and goodwill. In the end 
the soldiers were re-embarked, and the expedition 

The return voyage was more fruitful of practical 
results. Having detached several ships to Algarve to 
get water, the captain in charge brought back a 
communication from the ambassador at Lisbon to the 
effect that twenty-two galleons richly laden with trea- 
sure from the West Indies had put in at Vigo, convoyed 
by thirty sail-of-the-line under Chateaurenault. Here 
was a job evidently more to the liking of all parties 
in the fleet, for the attack was carried out with boldness 
and vigour. 

" The Duke of Ormonde," Burnet tells us, " landed 
with a body of the army, and attacked the forts with 
great bravery, while the ships broke the boom and 
forced the port." Here it should be interpolated that 
Rooke shifted his flag into a third-rate for the purpose, 
an example followed by other commanders. " When 
the French saw what was done, they left their ships, 
and set some of the men-of-war and some of the galleons 
on fire. Our men came up with such diligence that 
they stopped the progress of the fire ; yet fifteen 
men-of-war and eight galleons were burnt or sunk ; 
but our men were in time to save five men-of-war 
and five galleons, which they took. Here was a great 
destruction made, and a great booty taken, with very 
little loss on our side. One of our ships was set on fire 
by a fire-ship, but she too was saved, though with the 

Boom-breaking at Vigo 

loss of some men, which was all the loss we sustained 
in this important action. The Duke of Ormonde 
marched into the country and took some forts, and the 
town of Ritondella, where much plunder was found. 
The French seamen and soldiers escaped, for we, having 
no horses, were not in a condition to pursue them. 
A great deal of the treasure taken at Vigo was 
embezzled, and fell into private hands. One of the 
galleons foundered at sea. The public was not much 
enriched by this extraordinary capture, yet the loss 
our enemies made by it was a vast one ; and, to complete 
the ruin of the Spanish merchants, their king seized 
on the plate that was taken out of the ships upon their 
first arrival at Vigo. Thus the campaign ended very 
happily for the allies, and most gloriously for the 
Queen, whose first year, being such a continued course 
of success, gave a hopeful presage of what might be 
hereafter expected." 

In breaking the boom the Torbay, commanded by 
Vice-Admiral Hopson, was severely injured. She " was 
clapt on board by a French fire-ship," writes an eye- 
witness, " and had been burnt had not the latter 
fortunately blown up ; yet the former received much 
damage by it, and lost in the action, being killed and 
wounded, upwards of 100 men, the other ships' loss 
being inconsiderable. And our loss on shore was two 
officers killed and four wounded, and about forty 
private men killed and as many wounded. Our enemy's 
loss was not inferior to ours, and amongst theirs the 
governor of the fort was killed. This glorious victory 
was obtained in about two hours' time. 

" So the same night we marched about three miles 
farther, where we lay on our arms all night, though 
very wet, etc., and the ships and galleons on fire saluted 


The Story of the British Navy 

us with several shot when burnt down to the lower 
tier. And when they blew up, 'twas (tho' dismal) 
inexpressible fine. The next morning we marched to 
Redondela, from whence the inhabitants were fled ; 
yet great bodies grew together on the mountains, 
but finding us in so good a posture to receive them, 
they would not attack us. Also about this place we 
took many prisoners, etc., but had none taken and 
killed of ours." 

Rooke on his return to England took his seat in the 
Commons as member for Portsmouth and was made 
a privy councillor. The thanks of both Houses were 
voted to him and Ormonde, as well as to the services. 
Sir George responded in two sentences, one of which 
is particularly deserving of remembrance. " Sir," he 
said, " no man hath the command of fortune, but 
every man hath virtue at his will ; and though I may 
not always be successful in my country's service as 
upon this expedition, yet I may presume to assure you, 
I shall never be the more faulty." 

Rooke brought over the Archduke Charles from 
Holland to England in 1703, and sailed for Lisbon with 
him in the new year. Having landed the claimant to 
the Spanish throne, Rooke proceeded to bombard 
Barcelona. The result was disappointing, and the fleet 
was therefore headed in the direction of Nice with the 
idea of assisting the Duke of Savoy. On the way the 
Brest Fleet under the Count of Toulouse was sighted 
steering for Toulon to effect a junction with the ships 
there. Rooke followed for a while, but soon returned 
down the Mediterranean, where he was met by Shovel. 
They first attacked and captured Gibraltar, and then 
sailed for Tetuan to obtain water and other stores. 
Off Malaga the French fleet was sighted. Fighting began 

Boom-breaking at Vigo 

on August 13, 1704, with Shovel's advanced squadron 
attacking the advanced squadron of the Marquis de 
Villette. " Our number of ships," Sir Cloudesley notes 
in his dispatch, " that fought in the line of battle were 
pretty equal. I think they were forty-nine and we 
fifty-three ; but Sir George Rooke reserved some of 
the fifty-gun ships to observe if they attempted any- 
thing with their galleys, of which they have twenty-four. 
Their ships did exceed in bigness. I judge they had 
seventeen three-deck ships, and we had but seven. 
The battle began on Sunday, the 13th, soon after ten 
in the morning, and in the centre and rear of the fleet 
it continued till night parted. In the van of the fleet, 
where I commanded, and led with Sir John Leake, 
we, having the weather-gage, had an opportunity of 
coming as near as we pleased, which was within pistol- 
shot, before firing a gun ; through which means and 
God's assistance the enemy declined us, and were upon 
the run in less than four hours, by which time we had 
too little wind, so that their galleys towed off their 
lame ships and others as they pleased ; for the Admirals 
of the White and Blue, with whom we fought, had 
seven galleys attending upon them. 

" As soon as the enemy got out of reach of our guns," 
he adds, " the battle continuing pretty hot astern, 
and some of our ships in the Admiral's squadron towing 
out of the line, which I understood afterwards was for 
want of shot, I ordered all the ships of my division 
to slack all their sails, to close the line in the centre. 
This working had that good effect that several of the 
enemy's ships astern, which had kept their line, having 
their topsails and foresails set, shot up abreast of us ; 
but they were so warmly received before they got 
abroadside that, with their boats ahead, and their 


The Story of the British Navy 

sprit sails set, they towed from us without giving 
us the opportunity of firing at them. The ships of my 
squadron escaped pretty well, and I the best of all, 
though I never took greater pains in all my life to be 
soundly beaten, for I set all my sails and rowed with 
three boats ahead to get alongside with the Admiral 
of the White and Blue ; but he, outsailing me, shunned 
fighting, and lay alongside of the little ships. Not- 
withstanding, the engagement was very sharp, and, 
I think, the like between two fleets never has been seen. 
There is hardly a ship that must not shift one mast, 
and some all. In my belief there are not three spare 
top-masts nor three fishes in the fleet, nor above ten 
jury-masts to set up." 

Seeing that Shovel was likely to be surrounded, 
Rooke had boldly engaged Toulouse's flagship the 
Foudroyant, while Cullemburg, the Dutch admiral, 
attacked the enemy centre. When the battle had died 
down it was seen that the flagships of de Villette and 
Belle Isle were blazing, but eventually the crews 
managed to get the flames under control. Fire also 
broke out in five other French ships. No vessels were 
captured or sunk in either fleet. Over 2,700 casualties 
were sustained by the allies, while the French admitted 
the loss of no fewer than 200 officers. Although the 
English and Dutch gave chase, Toulouse crowded on 
all sail and escaped to Toulon. 

It was a notable day, for while Rooke and his 
colleagues were hammering the enemy at sea, Marl- 
borough was winning the battle of Blenheim. Not 
again during the war did the French Navy venture on 
a big undertaking. The corsairs alone showed enter- 



A Century of Empire 

7* is upon the Navy that, under the providence of God, the 
wealth, prosperity, and the peace of these islands and of the 
Empire do mainly depend. AKTICLJES OF WAR 

IT is a widely accepted maxim that " trade follows 
the flag." That civilization follows commerce is 
perhaps less fully appreciated. The British Empire 
is a case in point. It has been built up by colonization 
rather than by conquest. Indeed, the former word is 
a term which originally meant trade rather than 
government, though not in a purely lexicographical 

The seventeenth was a century of great overseas 
expansion, of the sowing of the seeds of Imperialism 
that were to flower later. The East India Company 
undertook its first voyage in 1601 ; in 1612 it established 
a post at Surat, Madras was purchased in 1639, Bombay 
acquired in 1661, Fort St David built in 1690, and 
Calcutta founded in 1696. The Eastland, Muscovy, 
Turkey, and Levant companies were growing in effi- 
ciency and power. " Not yearly but monthly, nay, 
almost weekly," wrote Lewis Roberts in 1638 of the 
Turkey Company, " their ships are observed to go 
to and fro, exporting hence the cloths of Suffolk, 
Gloucester, Worcester, and Coventry, dyed and dressed, 
kerseys of Hampshire and Yorkshire, lead, tin, and a 
great quantity of Indian spices, indigo, and calicoes ; 


The Story of the British Navy 

and in return thereof they import from Turkey the raw 
silks of Persia, Damascus, and Tripoli ; cottons and 
cotton yarn of Cyprus and Smyrna, and sometimes 
the gems of India, the drugs of Egypt and Arabia, 
the muscatels of Candia, and the currants and oils of 
Zante, Cephalonia, and Morea." 

The Empire was not founded by the Navy, though 
without the senior service its links could never have 
been welded together. No monarch commissioned 
a squadron and ordered its commander to plant the 
flag of old England on new territory, albeit the idea 
was conceived in the minds of two mariners, those 
gallant and adventurous half-brothers Walter Raleigh 
and Humphrey Gilbert. When Spain was mistress of 
the seas Raleigh made five attempts to found a colony 
on the North American continent, called Virginia in 
honour of the Virgin Queen. He failed, but the idea 
was not relegated to the limbo of impracticable ideals. 
When Raleigh was eating his heart out in the Tower 
and employing his time by writing a history of the 
world, the South Virginia Company and the Company 
of Plymouth Adventurers were formed. Both received 
charters in 1606, the former to colonize the territory 
between the thirty-fourth and forty-first degrees of 
north latitude, and the second that between the forty- 
first and forty-fifth degrees. In the following year 
the London or South Virginia Company founded James- 
town, not far from the mouth of the Chesapeake. 
Gradually a system of self-government was developed, 
the House of Burgesses making laws and controlling 
internal taxation ; Westminster interfered only in the 
interests of home trade. The success of the Plymouth 
Adventurers on the Kennebec River was less marked, 
but in 1620 the Pilgrim Fathers landed in Massa- 

A Century of Empire 

chusetts, and settlements began to develop rapidly. 
In order to organize for their common defence the 
United Colonies of New England came into being in 
1643, and included Massachusetts, Plymouth, Con- 
necticut, and Newhaven. Baltimore was established 
in 1634, Rhode Island in 1636, Carolina in 1663, and in 
1664 the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam was 
captured and renamed New York. In 1670 the Hudson 
Bay Company received its charter, and twelve years 
later the Quaker settlements of West Jersey and 
.Pennsylvania were founded. When William of Orange 
came to the throne the whole of the coast between 
Florida and Acadia (Maine) was occupied by English 

In other parts of the world Barbados had been 
nominally occupied in 1605, the Bermudas settled in 
1609 through Sir George Somers being wrecked on one 
of them, St Kitts and the Leeward Islands in 1623, 
British Honduras in 1630, the Windward Islands in 
1638, the Bahamas in 1646. Jamaica was conquered 
in 1655, and the Virgin Islands in 1672. 

During the War of the Spanish Succession the West 
Indies loomed large, for both the English and the enemy 
had important possessions there. ' Honest Benbow,' 
who had only recently returned from the colonies 
with a bad report as to their condition, was again sent 
out. King William hesitated at the choice on account 
of the treacherous nature of the climate, but when 
the Admiral was consulted he merely retorted that no 
sailor had a right to choose either his duty or his 
station. This highly delighted the monarch, who had 
more than a sneaking regard for the bluff old seaman. 
Almost the only joke attributed to the scion of the 
house of Orange was made in connexion with Benbow. 


The Story of the British Navy 

Previous to the latter' s voyage to the West Indies 
in 1698 the question of command was brought up 
before him. Another admiral was mentioned, who was 
said to be too much of a fine gentleman. " Oh ! " said 
the King, " if we are to have a beau, I insist upon my 
old friend Ben-froro." 

The immediate object of the expedition of 1701 was 
to endeavour to persuade the Spanish colonies to throw 
in their lot with the Archduke Charles. Should the 
admiral fail in this he was to raid their commerce. 
On arriving at Barbados Benbow found that the 
French had forestalled him, and that so far as the 
number of ships was concerned he was considerably 
weaker. Moreover they had with them a formidable 
body of soldiers. 

On July 19th Benbow sighted ten vessels under 
M. du Casse, but was unable to reach them. The 
flagship and the Ruby (forty-eight guns) continued to 
give chase the following day, the other vessels lagging 
behind. Subsequent happenings are thus related in the 
following extract from the journal of one of the officers 
of the Breda, the Admiral's flagship : 

" On the 21st, at daylight, the admiral being on the 
quarter of the second ship of the enemy's squadron, 
and within point-blank shot, the Ruby being ahead 
of him, the French ship fired at the Ruby, which the 
Ruby returned. The two French ships which were ahead 
fell off, and there being little wind brought their guns 
to bear on the Ruby. The Breda brought her guns to 
bear on the French ship, which first began, and shattered 
her very much, obliging her to tow away ; but the 
Ruby was likewise so much shattered in her masts, 
sails, and rigging, that the admiral was obliged to lay 
by her, and send boats to tow her off. The action 

A Century of Empire 

continued almost two hours ; during which the rear 
ship of the enemy was abreast of the Defiance and 
Windsor, who never fired one gun, though within 
point-blank shot. At eight o'clock in the morning, 
a gale of wind springing up, the enemy made what 
sail they could ; and the admiral chased them in hopes 
of coming up with them. Being then abreast of the 
river Grande, at two in the afternoon, the admiral 
got abreast of two of the sternmost of the enemy's 
ships ; and, in hopes to disable them in their masts 
and rigging, began to fire on them, as did some of 
the ships astern ; but he laying abreast of them they 
pointed wholly at him, which galled the ship much 
in her rigging, and dismounted two or three of her 
lower deck guns. This lasted about two hours. They 
then got within gun-shot, the admiral making what 
sail he could after them, and they using all the shifts 
they possibly could to avoid fighting. 

" On the 22nd, at daylight, the Greenwich was about 
three leagues astern, though the signal for the line of 
battle was never struck night or day ; the rest of the 
ships indifferently near (except the Ruby] ; and the 
enemy about a mile and a half ahead. At three in the 
afternoon the wind, which before was easterly, came 
to the southward. This gave the enemy the weather- 
gauge ; but in tacking the admiral fetched within 
gunshot of the sternmost of them, firing at each other ; 
but our line being much out of order, and some of our 
ships three miles astern, nothing could be done. This 
night the enemy were very uneasy, altering their courses 
often between the west and north. 

" On the 23rd, at daylight, the enemy was about 
six miles ahead of us ; and the great Dutch ship 
separated from them, out of sight. Some of our squadron, 


The Story of the British Navy 

at this time, were more than four miles astern, viz. 
the Defiance and Windsor. At ten o'clock the enemy 
tacked, the wind being then at E.N.E. but very variable. 
The admiral fetched within point-blank shot of two of 
them, firing broadsides at each other. Soon after, he 
tacked and pursued them as well as he could. After 
noon we took from them a small English ship called 
the Ann, galley, which they had taken off Lisbon. 
The Ruby being disabled, the admiral ordered her for 
Port Royal. At eight this night our squadron was about 
two miles distant from the enemy, they steering S.E. 
and very little wind, then at N.W. and variable, the 
admiral standing after them, and all his ships, except 
the Falmouth, falling much astern. At twelve the enemy 
began to separate. 

" On the 24th, at two in the morning, we came up 
within hail of the sternmost. It being very little wind, 
the admiral fired a broadside with double and round 
below, and round and partridge aloft, which she returned. 
At three o'clock the admiral's right leg was shattered 
to pieces by a chain shot, and he was carried below ; 
but presently ordered his cradle on the quarter deck, 
and continued the fight till day, when one of the 
enemy's ships of about 70 guns appeared in a very 
disabled condition ; her main-yard down and shot to 
pieces, her foretop - sail yard shot away, her mizen- 
mast shot by the board, all her rigging gone, and her 
sides bored through and through with our double- 
headed shot. The Falmouth assisted in this matter 
very much, and no other ship. Soon after day the 
admiral saw the other ships of the enemy coming towards 
him with a strong gale easterly ; at the same time the 
Windsor, Pendennis, and Greenwich, ahead of the 
enemy, ran to leeward of the disabled ship, fired their 

A Century of Empire 

broadsides, passed her, and stood to the southward ; 
then the Defiance followed them, passed also to leeward 
of the disabled ship, and fired part of her broadside. 
The disabled ship did not fire above twenty guns 
at the Defiance, before she put her helm a-weather, 
and ran away right before the wind, lowered both her 
top-sails, and ran to leeward of the Falmouth (which 
was then a gun-shot to leeward of the admiral, knotting 
her rigging) without any regard to the signal for battle. 
The enemy seeing our other two ships stand to the 
southward, expected they would have tacked and stood 
with them. They brought-to with their heads to the 
northward ; but seeing those ships did not tack, bore 
down upon the admiral, and ran between the disabled 
ship and him, firing all their guns ; by which they shot 
away his main top-sail yard, and shattered his rigging 
much. None of the other ships being near him, nor 
taking notice of the battle signal, the captain of the 
Breda ordered two guns to be fired at the ships ahead, 
in order to put them in mind of their duty. The French 
seeing this disorder of the English squadron, brought 
to, lay by their own disabled ship, and remanned and 
took her in tow. The Breda's rigging being much 
shattered, she lay by till ten o'clock ; and being then 
refitted, the admiral ordered the captain to pursue 
the enemy, who were then about three miles distant, 
and to leeward, having the disabled ship in tow, and 
steering N.E., the wind at S.S.W. The admiral in the 
meantime made all the sail after them he could, and the 
battle signal was always out. But the enemy taking 
encouragement from the behaviour of some of our 
captains, the admiral ordered Captain Fogg to send to 
the captains to keep their line, and behave themselves 
like men, which he did. Upon this Captain Kirby came 


The Story of the British Navy 

on board the admiral, and pressed him very earnestly 
to desist from any farther engagement, which made 
the admiral desirous to know the opinion of the other 
captains. Accordingly he ordered Captain Fogg to 
make the signal for all the captains to come on board, 
which they did, and most of them concurred with 
Captain Kirby in opinion that they had better desist 
from engaging. Upon this the admiral perceiving 
they had no mind to fight, and not being able to prevail 
on them to come to any other resolution, though all 
they said was erroneous, he thought it not fit to venture 
any farther. At this time the admiral was abreast 
of the enemy, and had a fair opportunity of fighting 
them ; the masts and yards in a good condition, and 
few men killed, except those on board the Breda.' 1 

When an officer expressed sympathy with Benbow 
at his wound the patient exclaimed, " I am sorry for it 
too, but I would rather have lost both my legs than 
have seen this dishonour brought upon the English 
nation ; and hear me, should another shot deprive me 
of life, behave like men, and fight it out whilst the ship 
can swim." 

It may be wondered why a minor action, or rather 
a series of actions, should be detailed at greater length 
than some of the famous victories of the Navy. Clio 
knows no favourites, and it is well to remember that 
there have been incidents fortunately exceedingly 
rare where the honour of the senior service has not 
been upheld. At the subsequent court-martial four of 
the captains in Benbow's squadron were tried for 
cowardice, breach of orders, and neglect of duty. 
Two were condemned to death and shot, one died 
previous to the charges being heard, and the remaining 
officer was dismissed. The Admiral survived the shock 

A Century of Empire 

of having his leg amputated, but a fever followed, and 
fre died on November 4, 1702. 

By the Peace of Utrecht (1713) England, the prime 
mover in the war, obtained Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, 
the Hudson Bay Territory, Gibraltar, and Minorca, and 
received from Spain the right to send one ship a year 
to Porto Bello and the monopoly of the slave-traffic 
with Spanish America. 



Anson Goes Round the World 

Historical facts can never be demonstrated with a complete- 
ness of proof which can leave no room for doubt. FKOUDK 

THE English are not the only nation who have 
borrowed the Hebraic prerogative of regarding 
themselves as God's chosen people. In 1789 
the Government was informed by Sir Benjamin Keene, 
ambassador at Madrid, that Spain " is at present 
governed by three or four mean stubborn people of 
little minds and limited understandings but full of 
the Romantick Ideas they have found in old Memorials 
and Speculative authors who have treated of the 
immense Grandeur of the Spanish Monarchy, People 
who have vanity enough to think themselves reserved 
by Providence to rectify and reform the mistakes and 
abuses of past ministers and ages." 

The origin of the War of Jenkins' Ear, which began 
in the year of Keene's analysis of the psychology of the 
few ministers who had any influence with Queen 
Elizabeth Farnese, was something more than an ear 
in a bottle. The celebrated incident associated with 
John Jenkins, master of a Glasgow trader, and his 
declaration to a committee of the House of Commons 
" that he had recommended his soul to God, and his 
cause to his country," were the final dramatic touches 
to a series of events leading to a war which Walpole 
had almost succeeded in averting. The asiento, or 

Anson Goes Round the World 

contract for the supply of slaves, and the right to send 
a trading-ship to the Spanish Main, encouraged a con- 
siderable amount of illicit commerce with the Spanish 
colonies, and the South Sea Company was no excep- 
tion. Both sides complained of outrages, the Spaniards 
claiming that they had a right to search English ships 
on the high seas ; the English asserting that they 
had no such right, and that coastguards and others 
committed unpardonable brutalities. Diplomatic and 
other pressure was brought to bear on the Court of 
Madrid. Letters of reprisal were threatened, and the 
' mailed fist ' was in evidence in the appearance in 
the Mediterranean of a squadron of nine ships and two 
fire-ships. A few months later Spain agreed to pay 
England 95,000 and Admiral Haddock was told to 
withdraw which he did not do because the order was 
revoked. Spain, which had disarmed her fleet as a 
guarantee of good faith, considered herself duped, 
and refused to pay the agreed compensation. The 
South Sea Company, debtor to Philip V to the extent 
of 68,000, and swearing it had lost three times that 
amount through the action of the garda costas, likewise 
repudiated its debts in this matter. 

Popular clamour brought about the War of Jenkins' 
Ear. Newcastle bowed to Parliament and to public 
opinion ; Walpole ate his own words, apparently 
because he was afraid of France making common 
cause with Spain. War was declared on October 19, 
1739, and while the crowd rejoiced greatly, Walpole 
exclaimed both truthfully and oratorically, " They 
may ring the bells now, but they will soon be wringing 
their hands." As Mr Harold W. V. Temperley, one 
of the youngest and ablest of modern historians, has 
written, " The first act of an eighty years' struggle 



The Story of the British Navy 

was rung up in 1739, the curtain fell for the last time 
in the last months of 1823, when the downfall of 
Franco-Spanish influence in America was finally de- 
creed. Horace Walpole was not far wrong when he 
stated in Parliament that England could hardly con- 
tend against the two Bourbons single-handed, and 
the result was always a balanced contest. England 
triumphed over the two allies for a moment in 1763, 
only to fall prostrate in 1783. Between 1763 and 
1807 she struggled hard once more, but failed in 
her last chance of securing dominion on the South 
American continent. England could baffle France, 
but Spain overweighted the balance, and, if a real 
equilibrium was to be found, an ally in the New World 
must be sought. This counterpoise was first found 
in 1823 not indeed in an ally, but in an independent 
helper against Franco-Spanish interference in the New 
World. In September of that year Canning, acting for 
England, bade France interfere in the New World 
at her peril ; in December Monroe and Adams, on 
behalf of the United States, gave warning both to 
France and Spain, and clinched the Englishman's 
argument. Bourbonism in its two branches was at 
length met in the New World by Anglo-Saxondom 
in its two branches, and the result was the entire 
defeat of the two Latin Powers and the dissolution of 
that once formidable union, which had first threatened 
the English dominion in 1739." 

The seizure of the enemy's colonies suggested itself 
as the obvious preliminary of the Spanish War, and 
Admiral Vernon was selected to command the sea- 
forces. It has been said with considerable justice that 
* Old Grog ' had two capital enemies, to wit, his tongue 
and his pen. His peculiar nickname was due to the fact 

Anson Goes Round the World 

that he was the inventor of the celebrated beverage, 
which in turn received its title from the grogram 
breeches or cloak which he wore. Vernon was a fine 
fighter, somewhat cantankerous, impatient, and im- 
perious. In some respects he reminds one of the late 
Lord Fisher. He certainly did his utmost to improve 
naval tactics, and the reward of a grateful or 
ungrateful country was the striking off of his name 
from the list of flag-officers for publishing a couple 
of pamphlets. Among those who served in his fleet 
were Smollett and George Washington's brother. 

With a mere half-dozen men-of-war Vernon made a 
brilliant attack on Porto Bello, some seventy miles 
from Panama, where the Plate ships were loaded. The 
bay and harbour were heavily gunned, some hundreds 
of weapons being mounted at various points. With 
a mere handful of men some 200 soldiers only 
Vernon set out to carry the place, although the various 
garrisons alone vastly outnumbered the troops at his 

After silencing the Iron Castle at the entrance, 
storming parties were landed and the town capitulated. 
There was little loss of life on either side. The Admiral, 
reinforced by bomb-vessels and fire-ships, but leaving 
his flagship at Porto Bello, then sailed to Cartagena, 
the scene of one of Drake's dashing exploits, and after 
a noisy demonstration lasting several hours, proceeded 
to bombard the fortress of Chagres. The attack is 
particularly interesting because it was the first time in 
modern history that a fort fell to the gunnery of ships 
with no assistance from the shore. 

The Government at home was now fitting out a 
squadron of twenty-one sail-of-the-line, together with 
frigates and fire-ships, under Rear-Admiral Sir Chaloner 


The Story of the British Navy 

Ogle. With them were transports carrying 12,000 
troops under Lord Cathcart. While waiting for these 
reinforcements, the sailing of which was considerably 
delayed, Vernon heard that a Spanish squadron had 
sailed for Cartagena, and that a number of French 
vessels had arrived at Hispaniola (San Domingo). 
Vernon betook himself to Port Royal to await Ogle, 
for he could do nothing with the small force at his 
disposal. Shortly after the arrival of the long-expected 
reinforcements the French left the West Indies, and it 
was decided to attack Cartagena. Cathcart had died 
at Dominica and been succeeded by General Wentworth. 
Between the latter and Vernon no love was lost. 

In addition to the natural protection afforded by a 
narrow passage, the entrance to the port was defended 
on the one side by Fort St Louis and several redoubts, 
and on the other by batteries. On a small island stood 
another fort known as St Joseph ; a boom, cables, and 
four guard-ships afforded additional security. Before 
reaching the city, with its further defence works, a 
second passage had to be traversed. This in turn was 
defended by a fort and a battery, while two vessels 
had been sunk on a shoal to prevent any attempted 
forcing by the enemy. 

In due course, although not without difficulty, 
forts St Louis and St Joseph were captured, and the 
ships got through the first passage. Notwithstanding 
sickness, troops were landed for the final advance, 
and some of the smaller ships manoeuvred the second 
channel. Apparently both the Admiral and the General 
lost heart at one and the same moment. Vernon 
refused to advance the ' heavy fathers ' of the fleet ; 
Wentworth lost all initiative. This, despite the destruc- 
tion of forts and the sinking of ships by the Spaniards 

Anson Goes Round the World 

themselves so that they might not fall into the hands 
of the hated and apparently triumphant English. 
" The ultimate failure of the attack on Cartagena," 
says Admiral Colomb, " is not explained, and that is 
all we can say about it." Following unsuccessful 
attempts on Cuba and Panama, Vernon returned to 
England. To the end of his days he blamed Wentworth 
for the failure of the operations in the West Indies 
after the arrival of the reinforcements. 

When George Anson returned from his famous 
voyage about which people continue to read after a 
lapse of nearly two centuries, it was said of him that he 
had been " round the world but never in it." Con- 
temporaries have oftentimes a hard, cynical way of 
uttering half-truths which it is the duty of the historian 
to penetrate and rectify. To begin with, the Centurion 
(60) was only a fourth-rate ship, and her five consorts 
were smaller. Anson's ' crews ' consisted of 170 men, 
of whom 32 were invalids or almost so, and 98 marines. 
Chelsea Hospital was called upon to supply 500 pen- 
sioners, but 241 deserted and their places were filled 
by recruits to the number of 210. At St Catherine 
(Brazil) 80 sick were landed from the flagship, and 
many more from the other vessels. Bad storms, scurvy, 
leaks, and other disasters devastated the continually 
decreasing company. Is it to be wondered at that 
Anson saw little of the world ? 

The Commodore's voyage was part of the policy of 
the Government to cut off Spain's source of supplies 
by attacking her distant possessions. His instructions 
were to proceed to the Cape Verde Islands, thence to 
St Catherine, and to proceed to the South Seas either 
round Cape Horn or through the Straits of Magellan, 
where he was to " annoy and distress the Spaniards, 


The Story of the British Navy 

either by sea or on land " to the utmost of his power. 
Narrowly missing a stronger enemy squadron, Anson 
duly arrived at St Catherine, as mentioned above, 
and after refitting, set sail again. For three months 
he encountered nothing but storms, and the ships 
scattered. Eventually the Commodore anchored at 
Juan Fernandez, where a solitary sloop rejoined him. 
The Gloucester (50) put in later, and also one of the two 
victuallers. The others never turned up. With the 
exception of a ship that was wrecked, they returned 
from whence they came. The crews of the three vessels 
now with Anson had totalled 961 when they left 
St Helens ; they now numbered 335 only. The sur- 
vivors had buried no fewer than 626 of their comrades. 
Soon after starting once more the Tryal (8) was 
scuttled and her men transferred to a prize taken 
by the Centurion. At last the tide was beginning 
to turn, for three vessels had been captured since 
leaving Robinson Crusoe's island. 

Paita proved easy prey, and Anson headed for the 
coast of Mexico, where he hoped to secure what the 
Admiralty termed " the Acapulcho ship," which sailed 
from the town of that name to Manila " at a certain 
time of the year, and generally returns at a certain 
time." The galleon was not so much as sighted. 

Anson now sailed for China. " In danger oft " from 
gales and sickness, he reached Macao in the middle of 
November 1742, and after having been received by 
the Viceroy of Canton, bluntly informed his crew that 
he would recross the Pacific and make another attempt 
to find the Acapulcho ship. On this occasion good 
fortune attended him, and the Nuestra Senhora de 
Cabodonga and treasure valued at about 400,000 were 
captured after half an hour's fight. After an interval 

Anson Goes Round the World 

of three years and nine months Anson arrived off 
Portsmouth on June 15, 1744. It was not until he 
reached the English Channel that the Commodore 
heard that England was at war with France. Anson 
was appointed Rear-Admiral of the Blue, which he 
resigned because the Admiralty, indulging its habitual 
follow-my-leader policy, would not confirm his pro- 
motion of Lieutenant Brett as acting captain of the 

Nearer home naval affairs were not prospering. 
In the previous year Mathews had fought an inde- 
cisive action against an inferior combined Spanish 
and French squadron. In the west a successful raid 
was made by the French on Nova Scotia in 1744, but 
it was nothing more than a raid, and in the following 
year Commodore Warren won a brilliant success in a 
combined naval and military operation by capturing 
Louisburg, the Gibraltar of the New World, after 
a siege lasting forty-seven days. In the East Indies 
Captain Peyton fought an indecisive action with La 
Bourdonnais in 1746, and on his retirement Madras 
was attacked and capitulated. While it is true that 
one of Peyton's 60-gun ships became leaky, this can 
scarcely excuse him for having refused to tackle his 
adversary in a serious manner, particularly as the 
squadron of La Bourdonnais was far inferior in every 
respect, seven of the eight ships being armed merchant- 
men. Rear-Admiral Griffin, Peyton's successor, was 
no whit better than the commander whom he had 
superseded. At last Boscawen was sent out with an 
overwhelming armament. No naval engagement took 
place, however, and after bombarding Pondicherry 
from the sea with little effect and besieging the 
French stronghold for nearly two months, the Admiral 


The Story of the British Navy 

withdrew. In the same year an expedition originally 
intended for the subjugation of Quebec was launched 
against Lorient without success, and the French failed 
to recapture Cape Breton. 

In the ensuing Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle Louisburg 
was restored to France and Madras to England, but 
the question of the right of search was discreetly 
omitted from the parchment sealed in 1748. 



With Hawke at Quiberon 

Our bells are worn threadbare with ringing for victories. 


SO far as Britain was concerned, the Seven Years 
War began at sea with a French expedition to 
Minorca. Vice-Admiral the Hon. John Byng, 
fourth son of Viscount Torrington, in command of 
thirteen ships, was dispatched with a regiment of foot 
to relieve the island, where Lord Blakeney was offering 
a spirited defence in the castle of St Philip. In the 
engagement which ensued on May 20, 1756, Temple 
West, the Admiral's second-in-command, showed him- 
self infinitely more capable than his senior officer, for 
while the former boldly attacked, the latter was so 
slow in getting into action that when night fell the 
battle was still undecided. M. de la Galissoniere's 
dozen vessels were able to retire, leaving three British 
ships badly injured, 43 men killed and 168 wounded, 
and the fleet in disorder. 

Instead of searching for the Frenchmen, the council 
of war held on the following day decided that Minorca 
should be abandoned for the protection of Gibraltar. 
Blakeney held out until the 24th, and had then no 
other alternative but to surrender. No serious effort 
had been made by Byng to land the soldiers. 

The Admiral's lack of success was due to a fixed 
belief that he would fail before sighting Minorca he 


The Story of the British Navy 

had written home that " the throwing men into the 
castle will only enable it to hold out a little longer 
time, and add to the number that must fall into the 
enemy's hands " the inability to take risks, and 
strict adherence to the fighting rules that then 
obtained. The orders were for van, centre, and rear 
to attack van, centre, and rear, and as the enemy 
only had a dozen ships and Byng thirteen, he actually 
denuded himself of the advantage afforded by an addi- 
tional vessel and ordered her to leave the line. 

Byng was tried by court - martial at Portsmouth. 
He was found guilty of negligence and sentenced to 
death. If he had suffered from moral cowardice, he 
certainly showed considerable strength of character on 
the day of his execution. He exchanged sleeve-links 
with his valet, remarking as he did so, " Yours will 
do to be buried with." Watching the spectators on 
shore and ships who were making a Roman holiday 
of the tragedy, he said to one of his friends, " I fear 
many of them will be disappointed : they may hear 
where they are, but they can't all see ! " As he began 
to tie a white handkerchief over his eyes some one 
offered to do it for him. " I am much obliged to you," 
he remarked ; " thank God, I can do it myself. I 
think I can. I am sure I can ! " Five bullets struck 
the ill-fated Admiral, and he fell forward dead on the 
quarterdeck of the guardship Monarque. 

" In this country," Voltaire wrote, " it is useful to 
kill an admiral now and then * just to encourage the 
others.' ' The remark was entirely true of the 
administration of the effete Duke of Newcastle, who 
was " unfit," according to George II, "to be chamber- 
lain to the smallest court in Germany." 

Hawke, who superseded Byng, had fought brilliantly 

With Hawke at Quiberon 

in the unfortunate battle of Toulon in 1744, taken 
half a dozen Frenchmen off Belleisle in 1747, and 
served in Nova Scotia and as Port Admiral at 
Portsmouth. When Louis XV began to collect a large 
fleet at Brest preparatory to the invasion of England 
Hawke was placed in command of the blockading 
squadron in the Bay of Biscay, a task which he carried 
out far more efficiently than his predecessors. Ex- 
cepting when a strong westerly gale was blowing, 
Hawke was always at his post ; as soon as it began to 
subside he left his retreat at Torbay to renew his 

Taking advantage of the temporary absence of 
Boscawen from his station off Toulon, La Clue sailed 
to effect a junction with the Brest Fleet. With fourteen 
sail-of-the-line and a number of frigates, sloops, and 
fire-ships, the English commander gave chase, and 
on August 18, 1759, came in touch with La Clue's 
ships. One was taken prize, two ran ashore, and two 
others sought refuge in Portuguese waters. Boscawen 
he was called " Old Dreadnought " by the sailors 
set on fire those which had been beached and captured 
the others for which the Government afterward 

In the following winter Hawke was forced by a 
gale to put into Torbay. When it had subsided he 
slipped out again to find that Conflans, like La Clue, 
had taken advantage of the opportunity to get out. 
What happened is well told by a chaplain who seems 
to have enjoyed himself mightily as a non-combatant 
spectator. His interesting description has also the 
advantage of being extraordinarily accurate : 

" On the 14th November (1759)," he writes, " Sir 
Edward Hawke hoisted his flag on board the Royal 


The Story of the British Navy 

George in Torbay, where the fleet had put in a few days 
before, through stress of weather. The same evening 
we stood out to sea, with twenty-three ships of the 
line and two frigates ; and on the 16th were within 
eight or nine leagues of the isle of Ushant. In the 
afternoon we fell in with some English transports 
returning from Quiberon, who gave the Admiral the 
information that they saw the French fleet the day be- 
fore, consisting of twenty-four sail, standing to the 
S.E., and were at that time twenty-four leagues west of 
Belleisle. The intelligence was received with universal 
acclamations, and every ship prepared for action. The 
Admiral lost not a minute of time, but pursued with 
the utmost alertness. In the evening of the 18th the 
wind came on fresh from the westward, and we spread 
all our canvas to court the prosperous gale. On the 
20th, about half an hour after eight in the morning, 
the Maidstone frigate let fly her topgallant-sails, 1 
which was a signal for discovering a fleet ; at nine, 
not a doubt was left of the happy hour being arrived 
which we had six months been impatiently expecting. 
We ascertained them to be the French squadron of 
twenty-one sail of the line, and three smaller ships ; 
and that they were then chasing Captain Duff's 
frigates and bombs, the destruction of which was one 
object of their destination. Upon their having a 
distincter view of our ships, they gave over the chase, 
and appeared to be forming a line to receive us. 

" From the equality of the combatants, we concluded 
the action would be very great and general ; but I 
may venture to assert, there was not an Englishman 
from high to low, who did not assure himself of victory. 
Upon our advancing, Marshal Conflans changed his 

1 Evidently topgallant sheets. 

With Hawke at Quiberon 

plans, and put right before the wind towards the shore, 
seeking safety in his flight. At this critical time Sir 
Edward paid no regard to lines of battle ; but every 
ship was directed to make the best of her way towards 
the enemy ; the Admiral told his officers he was for 
the old way of fighting, to make downright work 
with them. At noon our headmost ships were pretty 
near them, and between one and two the Warspite 
and the Dorsetshire began to fire, and were then abreast 
of the Cardinal rocks. Presently after, the Revenge, 
Resolution, Torbay, Magnanime, Swiftsure, Montagu, 
and Defiance came into action. 

" The firing now became very alert on both sides, 
and there was no distinguishing any longer English 
colours from French 1 . M. du Verger, the French 
rear-admiral, in the Formidable, bore a very fierce 
cannonade from the Resolution ; but upon the Royal 
George's coming up, they hauled down their flag, and 
struck to Sir Edward Hawke. This was only a point 
of honour, the Resolution having the merit of subduing 
them. The Royal George continued advancing, and 
Sir Edward gave orders to his master to carry him 
close alongside of M. Conflans in the Soleil Royal. 
The French Admiral seemed to have the same ambition 
on his part, and it was a glorious sight to behold the 
blue and white flags, both at the maintop-masthead, 
bearing down to each other. The Royal George passed 
the Torbay, which was closely engaged with the Thesee 
of seventy-four guns, and soon after sent that 
unfortunate ship to the bottom. On the other side 
was the Magnanime, who kept an incessant fire on one 
of the largest of the French ships,* and in the end 

1 In this matter history repeated itself at Jutland. See post, 
p. 369. L'Heros. 


The Story of the British Navy 

obliged her to strike. She afterwards ran ashore and 
was burnt. 

" The two commanders -in-chief were now very near, 
and M. Conflans gave the English admiral his broad- 
side ; the Royal George returned the uncivil salutation ; 
but after two or three exchanges of this kind, the 
Marshal of France declined the combat, and steered 
off. The French vice-admiral 1 likewise gave Sir Edward 
his broadside, and soon followed the example of his 
superior. Another and another acted the same part ; 
the fifth ship escaped not so well. Sir Edward poured 
his whole fire into her at once, and repeating the same, 
down she went alongside of him. The Royal George's 
people gave a cheer, but it was a faint one ; the honest 
sailors were touched at the miserable state of so many 
hundreds of poor creatures. The blue flag was now 
encountered with seven ships at the same time, and 
appeared in the very centre of the French rear. Every 
observer pitied the Royal George, to see her singly 
engaged against so many of the enemy. It seems 
indeed a kind of degradation to so noble a ship to be 
pitied ; but really her situation would have been lament- 
able if the enemy had preserved any degree of composure, 
or fired with any sort of direction ; but their confusion 
was so great, that of many hundreds of shot, I do not 
believe that more than thirty or forty struck the ship. 

" Sir Charles Hardy, in the Union, with the Mars, 
Hero, and several other ships, were crowding to the 
admiral's assistance, when the retreat of the French, 
covered by the obscurity of the evening, put an end 
to the engagement. Happy circumstance for the 
enemy, as an hour's daylight more would have brought 
on their total ruin ! 

1 De Beaufremont. 

With Hawke at Quiberon 

" The battle was fought so near the coast of Brittany, 
that ten thousand persons on the shore were sad 
witnesses of the white flag's disgrace. 

"... We have burnt the Soleil Royal of eighty-four 
brass guns, M. Conflans's ship, together with the Heros 
of seventy-four guns, both of which ran ashore near 
Crozie. We have sunk the These'e of seventy-four, 
and the Superbe of seventy ; we have driven the Juste 
of seventy guns upon the rocks, where she overset ; 
and have taken the Formidable of eighty, the French 
rear-admiral, sixty-two of whose guns are brass. Ten 
or eleven other ships were aground, but got off again 
by throwing their guns and stores overboard. They 
are now crept into the entrance of the little river 
Vilaine, where we do not despair of setting them on 
fire. Whether we succeed in this or not, we have room 
to believe they have undergone so much damage that 
few of them will be able to put to sea any more. The 
rest made their escape the night after the engagement, 
under the command of Mons. Beaufremont, their vice- 
admiral, arid stretched away for Rochefort. 

" We have had the misfortune to lose the victorious 
Resolution of seventy-four guns, and the Essex of 
sixty-four ; the former struck upon a sand called 
Le Four the night after the battle, and next morning 
the Essex, going down to her relief, unhappily ran upon 
the same shoal. Our endeavours to get them off were 
unsuccessful, but we have this consolation, that almost 
all their people were saved, and are embarked on board 
the Formidable. 

" . . . It gives me a most sensible pleasure to assure 
you that Sir Edward has been very liberal in his praises 
without a single imputation to cast a shade upon the 
triumph of the day. The glory of the British flag has 


The Story of the British Navy 

been nobly supported, while that of the enemy is 
vanished into empty air." 

The commander of the Magnanime was a certain 
young officer afterward known to fame as Lord Howe. 
His opinion of Conflans was that he was " a very 
unskilful naval officer, who, deriving his notions of 
naval tactics from the military service, fancied that 
his fleet was incapable of being successfully attacked 
when his van and rear were guarded by rocks and 

" When, in the general chase," he adds, " I had 
fixed upon my bird, I ordered my men up on the 
quarter-deck, and had one of the guns pointed at such 
a level that, when it was fired, the whole crew saw the 
ball strike the sea at the distance of not more than 
the ship's length. Having now ordered all the guns 
to be pointed according to the same level, I showed the 
crew how useless it would be to fire till we were close 
to the enemy. Ordering the men to return to their 
quarters, I gave directions that every man should 
lie down and not fire till I struck upon the enemy's 
bow. These orders were punctually executed, and 
with such effect that the French ship UHeros struck 
after two or three broadsides. On account of the violent 
gale and the lee shore, we were not able to take pos- 
session of the prize, but came to an anchor close 
alongside of her. In the night the greatest part of her 
crew contrived to make their escape ; in consequence 
of which I was soon afterwards sent by Lord Hawke 
on shore to a camp in the vicinity, commanded by a 
general officer, in order to demand the prisoners. 
The first lieutenant blustered a good deal, and said, 
' If you took us, why did you not keep us ? ' I replied 
that nothing could have been more easy than for me 

With Hawke at Quiberon 

to have sunk the vessel and destroyed every soul on 
board ; that I had spared them on the faith of their 
having surrendered themselves prisoners, and that, if 
this plea of the lieutenant were once admitted, every 
conqueror under any circumstances of difficulty would 
infallibly massacre his prisoners in cold blood. The 
general was convinced by my arguments, and agreed 
that the crew of L'Heros should be considered as 
prisoners of war." 

What greater contrast could there be than that of 
Byng at Minorca and Hawke at Quiberon ? In a 
comparatively confined area of water abounding in 
rocks, with a heavy sea and much wind, Hawke fought 
till dark and then anchored, though some of his ships 
did not hear his signal guns and cruised about until 
dawn. During the interval the Resolution and the 
Essex were lost on the Four. To avoid capture the 
French flagship was run ashore. One enemy ship was 
taken and five were destroyed. Seven vessels sought 
safety in the river Vilaine, where they were compelled 
to remain. 

The year 1759 was what Horace Walpole called it, 
" the Great Year." On land Minden and Quebec, at 
sea the breaking up of the Toulon Fleet by Boscawen 
and Hawke's victory at Quiberon were notable achieve- 

Although Pitt said " We shall win Canada on the 
banks of the Elbe," and a somewhat cynical con- 
temporary referred to his costly attacks on the French 
coast as " breaking windows with guineas," a com- 
bined naval and military expedition was sent out 
and justified itself in a way that makes this passage 
in British history beloved of every schoolboy. With 
the public Wolfe is, of course, the popular hero, and 


The Story of the British Navy 

poor Saunders, his " colleague in war," is forgotten. 
The Admiral, who had circumnavigated the globe 
with Anson, represented Plymouth in Parliament, 
served as Comptroller of the Navy, and succeeded 
Hawke as commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean 
Fleet, performed mighty exploits in the reduction of 
Quebec. The St Lawrence was uncharted, and every 
buoy had been carefully removed by the enemy. 
Saunders chose for the difficult work of making 
soundings and surveys a young petty officer of the 
name of James Cook, later to become famous as 
Captain Cook. Night after night he set out on his 
difficult and dangerous task. When the ships sailed 
a French prisoner on one of the transports declared in 
anguished tones that they would all go to the bottom. 
The captain overheard. " I will show you," he shouted, 
" that an Englishman shall go where a Frenchman 
dare not show his nose." De Vaudreuil, the Governor, 
frankly admitted to Paris that " the enemy have passed 
sixty ships-of-war where we dare not risk a vessel of 
100 tons by day or night." On June 27th Wolfe and 
his men landed on the Isle of Orleans, below Quebec 
and on the other side of the river. Fire-ships were 
floated out to reduce the English fleet to charred 
timbers. The Admiral acted with prompt coolness. 
Sailors set off in their boats, secured the flaming 
derelicts, and towed them aground, where they could 
do no harm. The experiment was tried a second time 
and was no more successful than the attack made upon 
the French from across the river Montmorency. Far 
more daring than these abortive attempts was the 
running of the gauntlet of Montcalm's batteries by 
several of the English ships, which reached the upper 
reaches of the river, destroyed a quantity of French 

With Hawke at Quiberon 

shipping, and enabled Wolfe to carry out a very daring 
plan. A bombardment by Saunders and the Point 
Levi batteries led Montcalm to assume that Beauport 
was the position chosen for attack. While Bougain- 
ville was watching the other ships above the city a 
picked band of some 3,600 men quietly proceeded 
down the river under cover of night to the Anse du 
Foulon, a tiny cove near the Plains of Abraham. 
The sequel was the capture of Quebec. A more 
concrete example of the loyal co-operation of the 
two services does not exist in British annals. No 
more help could be sent to America, with the result 
that in 1760 what remained of the French army 
surrendered in Montreal, and Canada passed to Britain. 
Louisburg, besieged by Boscawen and Amherst, had 
surrendered unconditionally two years before. 

The first line of defence on the Seven Seas was the 
blockading squadrons which kept guard off the coast 
of the enemy : Boscawen at Toulon, Hawke at Brest, 
Duff at Rochefort, and Rodney at Havre. They 
watched for the Homeland, and they also kept guard 
for those who were fighting in far-distant waters. 
Anson, with a short interval, was First Sea Lord from 
1751 to 1762. When he joined the Board he managed 
to break with precedent by securing the inspection 
and overhauling of the dockyards. He also helped to 
introduce some salutary reforms regarding promotion, 
which was perhaps to be expected. It was of Anson 
that Chatham spoke as " the greatest and most 
respectable naval authority that has ever existed in 
this country." During the last year of his adminis- 
tration Martinique, Granada, St Lucia, St Vincent, 
Havana, and Manila were captured, and in 1763 the 
Seven Years War came to an end. 



Britain Loses an Empire 

It is not cancelling a piece of parchment that will win back 
America. You must respect her fears and her resentments. 


IN the give and take of the Treaty of Paris (1763) 
England gained much. Canada, the French terri- 
tory on the east of the Mississippi, Cape Breton 
Island, and the remaining islands in the river and gulf 
of the St Lawrence ; Dominica, Granada, and Tobago 
in the West Indies ; Minorca, in the Mediterranean, 
and the settlements on the Senegal, in Africa, fell to 
her lot. In India she retained all her conquests. 
Havana and Manila were returned to Spain, which 
surrendered Florida. Pondicherry, Belleisle, Goree, 
Martinique, and St Lucia were restored to France, 
and her fishermen were given the right to fish in 
Newfoundland waters. 

Taxes and restrictions, a snowball fight, the firing 
of a volley, the burning of a ship, the throwing 
of chests of tea into the sea, the publication of a 
bundle of private letters, and the War of American 
Independence (1775-1783) had begun. At home the 
familiar weakness of despising one's enemy was in- 
dulged, with the inevitable result that Graves, in 
command of the station, was starved of ships. With 
only four sail-of-the-line and twenty-one smaller vessels 
he had an immense coastline to protect, military 

Britain Loses an Empire 

operations to support, and privateers to capture. At 
Bunker Hill Graves was certainly lax, for had he shown 
more energy and initiative he might have assisted 
Gage either to capture or annihilate the rebel colonists. 
In 1776 General Howe, assisted by his more famous 
brother the Admiral, was more successful, but in 
the following year General Burgoyne, operating from 
Canada, surrendered at Saratoga, a disaster due in 
some measure to the neglect of the British to patrol 
the Hudson River. It is evident that Washington 
had a clear perception of the tremendous importance 
of Sea-Power in the conflict, for at a later stage he 
wrote, " Upon decisive naval superiority every hope 
of success must ultimately depend." 

Public opinion in France decreed that she should 
side with the American colonists in their effort to 
disown the Motherland. Already arms had been sent 
to the insurgents and American privateers fitted up 
in French ports, so that when Benjamin Franklin, 
Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee set foot in Paris five 
months after the signing of the Declaration of 
Independence on July 4, 1776, these commissioners 
appointed by Congress did not find themselves in 
hostile territory. Their task was to procure help. 

Young members of the aristocracy, such as Lafayette, 
burning with ardour to save the new republic, crossed 
the Atlantic. When news came of the surrender of 
Burgoyne at Saratoga, France, delighted that her 
old enemy had received a set-back, recognized the 
independence of the United States, and shortly after- 
ward concluded a treaty of commerce and alliance. 
It is said that when Louis XVI signed the parchment 
he remarked to Vergennes, " You will remember, sir, 
that this is contrary to my opinion." England, which 


The Story of the British Navy 

had given not the slightest cause for offence, regarded 
the treaty as tantamount to a declaration of war. 

Choiseul had concentrated his attention on the 
Navy. His policy now bore fruit. D'Orvilliers fought 
an indecisive battle with Keppel off Ushant, and made 
good his escape under cover of night owing to the 
British admiral's supineness ; D'Estaing's squadron 
sailed for America, eluded Howe's fleet in a lucky 
storm, and having made for the West Indies, landed 
some of the troops intended for the subjugation of 
St Lucia, though they afterward surrendered, and the 
island was won for England. Such deeds showed that 
Great Britain had lost something of her old prowess on 
the element hitherto regarded as particularly her own. 

Another pet project of ' resolute Choiseul ' was real- 
ized in 1779, when Vergennes, in accordance with the 
Family Compact, summoned Spain to take part in 
the naval contest. A second Armada prepared to 
threaten England, did indeed appear off Plymouth, 
to the alarm of all the good West Country folk, and 
with like ill-fortune was scattered by the winds. It 
came up with Sir Charles Hardy, but dared not risk a 
fight, and the bad weather that ensued parted the allies 
and drove them back in a shattered state. A much 
more serious attempt was made against Gibraltar, 
whose possession by England and the hope of securing 
its return had contributed not a little to Spain's joining 
the Family Compact in 1761. The siege lasted from 
1779 to 1783, and is one of the greatest in modern 
history. During these years both sides fought with 
praiseworthy determination. Certainly Sir George 
Rodney and General George Elliott, afterward Lord 
Heathfield, made good their claims to a niche in 
the respective temples of naval and military fame. 

Britain Loses an Empire 

Rodney, in addition to capturing a valuable merchant 
fleet, and defeating a Spanish squadron in the early 
days of 1780, also relieved and revictualled ' the 
Rock.' In the same year a determined effort was 
made by Russia, Sweden, and Denmark, joined later 
by other Powers, to frustrate England's right of search 
in respect of neutral vessels, and war broke out between 
Great Britain and Holland. 

On October 19, 1781, Cornwallis was forced to 
surrender owing to the blockade of Yorktown by the 
French fleet, and the cutting off of his land com- 
munications by Washington. In the West Indies 
better luck attended the British. Many islands had 
been lost, but De Grasse's ambitious project against 
Jamaica was foiled by Rodney off Dominique on 
April 12, 1782, in the battle of the Saints. He broke 
through the enemy's line and captured the French 
flagship. On the other hand, Minorca fell to the 
combined French and Spanish fleets after a siege of 
several months, and the French admiral Suffren sup- 
ported Hyder Ali and Tippoo Sahib in their war against 
the British dominion in the Carnatic. It was not until 
September 3, 1783, that peace was restored between 
Great Britain, the United States, France, Spain, and 
Holland. The advantages were certainly not with 
England, which had piled up a debt of 100,000,000 
sterling and been compelled to recognize the in- 
dependence of the rebel colonies, whose territory 
extended to the Mississippi River. 

If the American War of Independence reflected no 
great credit on the British Navy, some at least of her 
officers had done remarkably well. Rodney, for 
instance, captured a French, a Spanish, and a Dutch 
admiral, and added a dozen enemy sail-of-the-line 


The Story of the British Navy 

to the strength of the service he so admirably repre- 
sented. That some of the officers appreciated what 
was lacking is shown in their letters. Keppel, after 
his action off Ushant, complained that though both 
officers and ships were " fine," some of the former 
wanted " more experience in discipline," and that 
there was a general deficiency of petty officers. 
Kempenfelt expressed his surprise that " we, who 
have been so long a famous maritime Power, should 
not yet have established any regular rules for the 
orderly and expeditious performance of the several 
evolutions necessary to be made in a fleet. . . . The 
men who are best disciplined, of whatever country 
they are, will always fight the best. The Roman troops 
beat those of all other nations, not because they were 
Romans, for their legions were composed of people 
from all countries ; but because their discipline was 
superior to that of all other nations. It is a maxim 
that experience has ever confirmed, that discipline 
gives more force than numbers. In fine, if you will 
neither give an internal discipline for your ships, nor 
a system of tactics for the evolutions of your fleet, 
I don't know from what you are to expect success, 
when you have the enemy in unrivalled possession of 
these advantages." Hood found fault with Rodney 
after his victory of the Saints because he did not 
continue to pursue the enemy at night : " Now, the 
whole business will be to come over again ; for farther 
than the glory of his Majesty's arms having appeared 
with lustre, and the danger probably removed for the 
present from Jamaica, I can see no great benefit can arise 
from so perfectly complete and unrivalled a victory." 
Despite all, England's sun was neither set nor setting. 
It was to shine more brilliantly than ever before. 


The Glorious First of June, 1794 

Nothing can tlop the courage of English seamen. 


THE storm known as the French Revolution 
burst in 1789. Pitt thought it would be of 
short duration, whereas it steadily gained 
strength and eventually involved practically every 
country in Europe. If France ignored the nation 
which he represented, if she refrained from poaching 
on British preserves or those of her allies, he was quite 
content to return the compliment. Then came the 
decree that the navigation of the river Scheldt should 
be thrown open. It had previously been guaranteed 
to the Dutch by Great Britain as well as by other 
Powers, including France. The execution of Louis XVI 
followed, and led to the French ambassador at the 
Court of St James's being handed his passports. On 
February 1, 1793, the French Convention declared 
war against Holland and Great Britain, the latter in 
due course entering into an alliance with Russia, Sar- 
dinia, Spain, Naples, Prussia, the Empire, and Portugal. 
Revolutionary France had not a single friend. 

England had 115 sail-of-the-line, Spain 76, Holland 
49, Portugal 6, Naples 4 ; a total of 250 battleships. 
France had 76, many by no means good, and the same 
may be said of Spain and Holland. Of Britain's three 
principal fleets, that of the Channel was commanded 


The Story of the British Navy 

by Howe, Sir John Jervis was appointed to the West 
Indies station, and Hood was commander-in-chief in 
the Mediterranean. 

The inhabitants of the great southern seaport and 
arsenal of Toulon, the majority of them royalists to 
the core, openly rebelled. Unlike those of Marseilles, 
who had raised an army against the Convention, they 
had gone so far as to call in the assistance of the enemy. 
English and Spanish fleets, under Hood and Langara 
respectively, blockaded the harbour, and troops which 
had been hastily landed commanded the town. It 
soon became evident that the Convention would have 
to retake the place by force. This was accomplished 
-mainly by the resource of a young officer named 
Napoleon Bonaparte, who had his first fight with the 
English as commander of the artillery. After the 
reduction of Fort Mulgrave, which commanded the 
inner harbour, Napoleon began to bombard the now 
doomed city and the fleet in the roadstead. That night 
-r-it was December 17, 1793 Sidney Smith, a gallant 
young English captain of the sea-service, with a little 
body of equally brave men, set fire to nine battleships 
and fifteen frigates in the harbour. The naval stores 
were soon well alight, the flames spreading with 
bewildering rapidity, and the Spaniards exploded two 
powder-ships. On the 19th, Lord Hood in the Victory 
weighed anchor, and the British fleet left the scene 
of disaster with over 14,000 of the terror-stricken 
inhabitants on board, and four sail-of-the-line, five 
frigates, and several smaller vessels as spoil. 

Horace Walpole characterizes Howe as " undaunted 
as a rock, and as silent." He was certainly somewhat 
deficient in tact, and the combination may have 
brought about a lack of popularity with certain of his 

The Glorious First of June 

officers. They even went so far as to refuse to drink 
to the Admiral's health at their mess. 

The chaplain happened to be a protege of his lordship, 
and this lack of esteem quite naturally caused him 
a certain amount of uneasiness. He was, however, a 
man of excellent humour, and he made up his mind 
that this disrespect must cease. 

His opportunity came one day when he was called 
upon for a toast. " Well, gentlemen," he responded, 
" I can think of nothing better at this moment than 
to ask you to drink to the first two words of the third 
Psalm ; for a Scriptural toast for once may be taken 
from one of my cloth." 

The toast was drunk with right goodwill. We may 
be reasonably certain that the officers were completely 
ignorant of the passage so unexpectedly referred to. 
There was a refreshing novelty about the idea that 
appealed to them. It was afterward discovered that 
the Psalm began with the words, " Lord, how are they 
increased that trouble me ! " 

After the battle of the Glorious First of June the 
above was the favourite toast throughout the Navy. 
The fight was the first general action of the French 
Revolutionary War, that great conflict of principalities 
and powers that was to go on, with only a brief cessa- 
tion, from 1793 until 1815. " Never before," we read 
in the official Moniteur, " did there exist in Brest a 
fleet so formidable and well disposed as that which 
is now lying there. Unanimity and discipline reign 
among officers and men, and all are keen with desire to 
fight the enemies of their country on the very banks 
of the Thames and under the walls of London." The 
announcement was certainly calculated to inspire con- 
fidence in the prowess of the service. 


The Story of the British Navy 

The state of the French Navy, it may be added, 
was in actual truth extremely unsatisfactory. At the 
beginning of hostilities the armament of the British 
sail-of-the-line was 2,716 guns in excess of the enemy, 
their broadsides aggregating 88,957 as against 23,057. 
The number of frigates was nearly two to one. 

The French squadrons based on Channel ports tried 
their wings once or twice during 1793, but the cruises 
merely resulted in the dismissal and imprisonment of 
Morard de Galle and the beheading of several of his 
captains. The underfed, underclothed, unpaid rank 
and file were almost constantly in a state of mutiny, 
but while it was impolitic and perhaps impracticable 
to haul them before the Revolutionary Tribunal it was 
deemed advisable to make examples of some of their 
officers. On the English side of the Channel Howe 
was abused by both Press and public for not bringing 
the enemy to action. He sighted their ships several 
times but was unable to come up with them. When 
the fleet went into port to refit in December so great 
was the outcry that the Admiral expressed a wish to 
retire, which was not entertained. 

On May 2, 1794, the Channel Fleet, consisting of 
thirty-four sail-of-the-line, was again at sea. Of these 
half a dozen were placed under the orders of Rear- 
Admiral Montagu for the purpose of guarding the 
outward-bound convoy and the East India Company's 
ships to Cape Finisterre, and two were to chaperon 
the merchant vessels to their destination. For 
immediate purposes therefore Howe had twenty-six 
sail-of-the-line and seven frigates. At Brest the 
French had collected twenty-five sail-of-the-line, com- 
manded by Villaret-Joyeuse. In place of a delegate 
of the National Assembly such as had accompanied 

The Glorious First of June 

Morard de Galle, there were now two Government 
representatives, including one from the guillotine- 
loving Committee of Public Safety. Whoever it may 
have been who infused energy into the French fleet, 
whether Villaret-Joyeuse, Jean Bon Saint Andre, or 
Prieur de la Marne, does not much matter. The fact 
is evident from a remark made by Howe to Caleb 
Parry. " In full confidence of their own strength," 
the Admiral avowed, " and of the disaffection of the 
English, the three days of battle which ensued were 
the only instances during my long naval life in which 
the French determined to fight." 

Owing to the partial failure of the harvest in 1793, 
the French had purchased foodstuffs in the United 
States. The grain-ships were now on their way to 
Europe, and Howe's orders were to intercept the 
convoy. This explains why the Admiral did not 
blockade Brest. He " barged about," like Beatty on 
a later occasion, and meeting nothing, appeared off 
Brest on May 19th, quite unaware that Villaret-Joyeuse 
had passed him in a heavy fog two days before. Within 
a few hours of learning that the bird had flown, Howe 
received intelligence that Montagu had taken a naval 
prize and captured several merchant vessels that had 
belonged to an English Newfoundland convoy. Both 
the frigate shepherding them and the sheep had fallen 
into the hands of Rear-Admiral Nielly, whom Villaret- 
Joyeuse had dispatched with five sail-of-the-line to 
meet the homeward-bound grain-ships. Montagu quite 
rightly asked for reinforcements. What more natural 
than that the French commander-in-chief, Nielly, 
and Vanstabel, in charge of the food-convoy, should 
effect a junction ? Howe at once sailed toward 
Montagu, but learning from captured vessels that the 


The Story of the British Navy 

direction steered by the Brest Fleet would not affect 
him, Howe set out in search of Villaret-Joyeuse. On the 
23rd he was rewarded, and a long chase ensued which 
ended in a skirmish between Howe's advanced squadron 
under Rear- Admiral Pasley and the rear of the French 
fleet. It ended in the Revolutionnaire (110) surrender- 
ing to the Audacious (94) after sustaining a severe 
grilling on the part of the Russell (74), the Bellerophon 
(74), the Leviathan (94), and the Thunderer (74). The 
prize was not secured and eventually reached Brest, 
while the Audacious had received such severe injuries 
that she was obliged to make for Plymouth, and the 
Bellerophon also had been badly damaged. 

On the following morning action was renewed at 
long range, but half an hour after noon the Admiral 
signalled his vessels to tack in succession and break 
the French line. The flagship, the Queen Charlotte 
(100), passed through it between the fifth and sixth 
vessels in the rear, but was followed only by the 
Bellerophon and the Leviathan. The Queen, for 
instance, made four unsuccessful attempts. The re- 
mainder passed along the French line and tacked 
astern of it. There was much confusion, and " in the 
heat of the action," as Captain William Hope of the 
Bellerophon writes in his journal, " it was difficult to 
know who was French or who was English, we was 
all firing through one another." The Admiral, however, 
gained the weather-gauge, and the Indomptable (80), 
and the Tyrannicide (74) were cut off and surrounded. 
The French rallied to their support and rescued them, 
though the former was in such a damaged state that 
it was necessary to send her home under escort. A 
French 74 separated from the fleet and fell in with the 
grain-ships, which reached home in safety. Fortunately 

The Glorious First of June 

for Villaret-Joyeuse, his losses were made up by the 
arrival of four other ships on the 30th, a day of 
almost impenetrable fog. Similar weather continued 
for several hours on the following day, though it 
cleared up in the afternoon with a burst of sunshine. 

By no means the least interesting account of the 
battle of the Glorious First of June was written by 
a midshipman who fought on the Orion and was 
then only twelve years of age. William Parker was 
Earl St Vincent's nephew, and subsequently became 
a baronet and Admiral of the Fleet. 

" The next morning [i.e. June 1st] early," he tells 
his father, " the signal was made to form the line of 
battle ; we beat to quarters and got up sufficiently 
of powder and shot to engage the enemy. The enemy 
also formed their line to leeward. Upon our making 
observations on the enemy's fleet we found that one 
of their three-deck ships were missing, but counted 
28 sail-of-the-line, which was two more than they 
had on the 29th May. We supposed the Isle d'Aix 
squadron had joined them, and the ship that we had 
disabled on the 29th had bore up for Brest or sunk, 
and some thought the Audacious must have taken one 
of them, and took her away from the fleet as she was 
missing the 30th May ; but the best joke was that the 
French commander-in-chief had the impudence to say 
to those ships who had joined him that he had thrashed 
us on the 29th completely, and that he only wanted 
to have another little dust with us before he should 
carry us all into Brest. Our Fleet was formed, and 
we only waited to get near enough to the enemy to 
begin. At eight the action began, and the firing from 
the enemy was very smart before we could engage 
the ship that came to our turn to engage, as every 


The Story of the British Navy 

ship is to have one because our line is formed ahead, 
and theirs is formed also. Suppose their first or leading 
ship is a 100-guns and ours a 74, our ship must engage 
her. I believe we were the ninth or tenth ship ; our 
lot fell to an 80-gun ship, so we would not waste our 
powder and shot by firing at other ships, though 
I was sorry to say they fired very smartly at us 
and unluckily killed two men before we fired a gun, 
which so exasperated our men that they kept singing 
out, ' For God's sake, brave Captain, let us fire ! 
Consider, sir, two poor souls are slaughtered already I ' 
But Captain Duckworth would not let them fire till we 
came abreast of the ship we were to engage, when 
Captain Duckworth cried out, ' Fire my boys, fire ! ' 
upon which our enraged boys gave them such an 
extraordinary warm reception that I really believe it 
struck the rascals with the panic. The French ever 
since the 29th (because we so much damaged one of 
their ships) called us the little devil and the little black 
ribband, as we have a black streak painted on our 
side. They made the signal for three or four of their 
ships to come down and sink us, and if we struck to 
them to give us no quarter ; but all this did not in the 
least dishearten our ship's company, and we kept up 
a very smart fire when some of the enemy's masts 
and yards went over their side, which we gave credit 
for some of our doing. The smoke was so thick that 
we could not at all times see the ships engaging ahead 
and astern. Our main-topmast and main yard being 
carried away by the enemy's shot, the Frenchman 
gave three cheers, upon which our ship's company, 
to show they did not mind it, returned them the three 
cheers, and after that gave them a furious broadside. 
About this time a musket ball came and struck Captain 

The Glorious First of June 

Duckworth between the bottom part of his thumb and 
finger, but very slightly, so that he only wrapped a 
handkerchief about it, and it is now almost quite well. 
But to proceed with my account, at about ten the 
Queen broke their line again, and we gave three cheers 
at our quarters ; and now we engaged whichever ship 
we could best. A ship of 80 guns, which we had poured 
three or four broadsides into on the 29th May, we 
saw drawing ahead on our lee quarter to fire into us, 
which ship our ship's company had a great desire to 
have made strike to us on the 29th, and now quite 
rejoiced at having an opportunity of engaging her 
again, gave three cheers at their quarters, and began 
a very smart firing at their former antagonist. Their 
firing was not very smart, though she contrived to 
send a red-hot shot into the captain's cabin, where I 
am quartered, which kept rolling about and burning 
everybody, when gallant Mears, our first lieutenant, 
took it up in his speaking-trumpet and threw it over- 
board. At last, being so very close to her, we supposed 
her men had left their quarters, as Frenchmen do not 
like close quarters. She bore down to leeward of the 
fleet, being very much disabled. The signal was made 
for Gibraltar and Culloden to cover us from the fire 
of the enemy, as we were very much disabled. Our 
ship's company were employed in cutting away the 
wreck, some of which was on fire, which we soon put 
out by drawing water with our fire buckets. The 
ships that were not disabled still engaged the enemy. 
At half-past one the Brunswick's mizen and main 
masts were shot away, and she went to leeward of the 
fleet ; and we were very much afraid she would have 
been taken. At last we saw her bear up and set all 
the sail she could, but there was no possibility of her 


The Story of the British Navy 

getting into our line again. At two the firing ceased, 
but we did not know whether the action was over or 
no. We were employed in getting ready for engaging, 
and were very close to the Admiral and perceived he 
had lost both his fore- and main - topmasts in the 
action, and two or three of our own ships totally 
dismasted. There were seven of the Frenchmen also 
dismasted, but some of them had still their colours 
flying. We saw one of them hoisting a little small sail 
and egging down, and she would soon have joined her 
own fleet had not Mr Mears seen it, and let fly an 
18-pdr. right astern of her, which made her strike 
her colours and hoist English, and strike her sail also. 
Captain Duckworth ordered no more guns to be fired 
at her ; and > then we had it in our power to say that 
she struck to the Orion. The French Fleet then ran 
away like cowardly rascals, and we made all the sail 
we could. Lord Howe ordered our ships that were 
not very much disabled to take the prizes in tow, and 
our own dismasted ships, who were erecting jury masts 
as fast as possible. But I forgot to tell you that the 
ship which struck to us was so much disabled that 
she could not live much longer upon the water, but 
gave a dreadful reel and lay down on her broadside. 
We were afraid to send any boats to help them, 
because they would have sunk her by too many poor 
souls getting into her at once. You could plainly 
perceive the poor wretches climbing over to windward 
and crying most dreadfully. She then righted a little, 
and then her head went down gradually, and then 
sunk, so that no more was seen of her. . . ." 1 

This remarkable letter, which is much more enter- 

1 The Last of Nelson's Captains, by Admiral Sir Augustus Phillimore, 
K.C.B. (London, 1891), pp. 32-34. 

The Glorious First of June 

taining than the official journal of the Orion, ends on 
a sad note. Parker tells us that on returning to 
Plymouth the men smuggled a great deal of liquor 
on board, which they imbibed, and then mutinied, 
releasing the prisoners. Twenty were put in irons 
and afterward punished with an unmentioned number 
of lashes apiece. When the culprits were sufficiently 
sober they wept like children, but one cannot help 
thinking that coming events were casting their shadows 
before, and that the mutiny at the Nore was already 
in the making. 

We cannot, of course, understand a battle by merely 
following the evidence of a solitary eyewitness. The 
idea of ' Black Dick,' as Howe was familiarly called 
by the sailors, was to attack the French centre, break 
through the line, and engage to leeward. Each ship 
was to attack the ship opposed to her. 

The ship marked out for attack by the Queen 
Charlotte was the French flagship, the Montague. 
When breaking the line Howe shouted to Bowen, 
the master, to starboard the helm. " But we shall 
be on board the Jacobin" Bowen replied in some 
amazement. " What is that to you, sir ? " the Admiral 
retorted. " / don't care if you don't," Bowen muttered 
to himself. " I'll go near enough to singe some of our 
whiskers." Black Dick, who suffered with gout but 
not with deafness, overheard, and turning to his 
captain, remarked, " That's a fine fellow, Curtis." 
Bowen showed his prowess in no uncertain way, for 
the jib-boom of the Queen Charlotte grazed the mizzen- 
shrouds of the Jacobin. At the same time the former 
fired a broadside, and almost simultaneously her own 
fore-topmast was brought down by the enemy. This 
precluded Howe from getting alongside the Montague, 


The Story of the British Navy 

but her stern-frame and starboard-quarter received 
such a continuous and well-directed fire from the 
flagship that the casualties numbered nearly 300 in 
killed and wounded. The Montague then hauled out 
of the line, followed by the Jacobin and several other 
ships, one of which, the Juste, had also been in action 
with the Queen Charlotte. 

The French line was thrown into confusion as other 
English vessels obeyed Howe's order, although all of 
them were not able to do so. When Villaret-Joyeuse 
formed a line to leeward he returned with the intention 
of rescuing some at least of the ten French ships that 
were surrounded, and he managed to extricate four. 

" The Queen Charlotte," Howe notes in his dispatch, 
" had then lost her fore-topmast, and the main- 
topmast fell over the side very soon after. The 
greater number of the other ships of the British fleet 
were at this time so much disabled, or widely 
separated, and under such circumstances with respect 
to those ships of the enemy in a state for action, and 
with which the firing was still continued, that two or 
three even of their dismantled ships, attempting to get 
away under a sprit-sail singly, or smaller sail raised on 
the stump of the fore-mast, could not be detained." 

The gallant attempt of the French admiral alarmed 
Sir Roger Curtis, who advised Howe to recall his 
scattered ships, fearing a further attack on the part 
of Villaret-Joyeuse. This, however, never eventuated, 
and the British returned home with half a dozen 
prizes. At Portsmouth Howe was presented with a 
sword by the King, and gold medals were struck to 
commemorate the victory of the Glorious First of June. 
Unfortunately the great grain-convoy had escaped. 

Meanwhile Hood, after having evacuated Toulon, 

The Glorious First of June 

had proceeded to Corsica, which a division under 
Horatio Nelson had been blockading. The first object 
of the Admiral's attack was San Fiorenzo. Without 
in any way disparaging the exertions of the troops, 
it must be admitted that the gallant conduct of the 
sailors, who dragged heavy guns up the heights in 
order to place them in a position to cannonade the 
tower of Mortello, which commanded the situation, 
contributed largely to the success of the operation. 
A sail-of-the-line and a frigate attacked the formidable 
fortification with ill-success. Hot shot was fired at 
the vessels with such precision that they were obliged 
to move to a less dangerous position. 

The enemy retreated to Bastia, and on May 24, 
1794, " the most glorious sight that an Englishman 
can experience, and which, I believe," wrote Nelson, 
" none but an Englishman could bring about, was 
exhibited 4,500 men laying down their arms to less 
than 1,000 British soldiers, who were serving as 
marines." Calvi was now attacked, and it was here 
that Nelson was blinded in his right eye by sand flung 
up by shot when in command of the advanced land- 
battery. The enemy garrison marched out with the 
honours of war in the following August. Corsica was 

Three months later Hood was succeeded in the 
Toulon command by Hotham, who had fourteen battle- 
ships against the enemy's fourteen. On March 8, 1795, 
it was known that the French were at sea with the 
object of retaking the island of Napoleon's birth, but 
it was not until the morning of the 13th that the 
Admiral flew the signal for a general chase. While 
this was proceeding the Ca-Ira (84) collided with one 
of her consorts, which prevented her from keeping up 


The Story of the British Navy 

with the others. Seizing his opportunity, the captain 
of the British frigate Inconstant (36) pounced down 
upon the huge battleship and brought her to action. A 
French vessel then went to the assistance of the Ca-Ira 
and took her in tow. Considerable damage had been 
done on board the Inconstant owing to the double fire 
to which she was subjected. Nelson, keenly alert to 
the slightest advantage, got abreast of the two French- 
men and continued to wage a gallant fight for nearly 
two hours until called off by Hotham owing to the 
near approach of several of the enemy's ships. The 
action was thereby rendered indecisive. 

During the night the Sans Culottes (120) separated 
from her consorts, and the Censeur (74), with the 
damaged Ca-Ira in tow, was too slow to keep up with 
the remainder of the French fleet. This enabled the 
Bedford (74) and the Captain (74) to attempt to capture 
them on the following morning. The British ships, as 
they bore down on the enemy, were received by a 
tremendous fire, which they could not return. For 
nearly an hour and a half the fight was sustained, until 
the Captain was little more than a floating wreck, and 
the distressed state of the Bedford made her recall 
imperative. Eventually the Ca-Ira and the Censeur 
surrendered to other vessels of the fleet. 

The Brest Fleet had kept quiet since Howe's victory 
of the Glorious First of June. It was sighted at sea 
some twelve months afterward by Cornwallis, who 
beat a masterly retreat, for his reconnoitring force 
only consisted of five sail-of-the-line, two frigates, 
and a smaller vessel, while that of Villaret-Joyeuse 
numbered a dozen battleships and fifteen frigates. 
They were pursued all night, but during the dark 
hours three vessels fell considerably astern, and on 

The Glorious First of June 

the following morning the Mars was heavily attacked. 
Cornwallis was in no mood to allow her to be taken 
prize. With his flagship, the Royal Sovereign, and the 
Triumph, he went to her support, and after an engage- 
ment lasting until past seven o'clock in the evening 
the French withdrew, only to come across Bridport's 
Channel Fleet. A general chase was ordered by the 
British admiral, and on June 23, 1795, the enemy 
rear was attacked, the French Formidable catching 
fire and surrendering. The Alexandre and the Tigre 
also struck their flags. Approaching near the isle of 
Groix, some of the batteries stationed upon it opened 
fire. Mistaking the land for Belleisle, and afraid that 
some of his ships would ground, the Admiral hoisted 
the signal to discontinue the action, to the intense 
disgust of more ardent spirits. That his cautious 
policy was endorsed by the Admiralty is evident from 
the fact that in March 1796 he succeeded Howe in 
the command of the Channel Fleet. 

In addition to several successful single-ship actions, 
much had been going on in the West Indies. 
Martinique, St Lucia, and Guadeloupe were all taken. 
The Cape of Good Hope and Ceylon surrendered in 
1795 ; Elba was seized in the following year, and 
speedily evacuated. 

With the idea of assisting Irish malcontents to 
throw off the British yoke, an expedition under 
General Hoche sailed with seventeen ships-of-the-line, 
thirteen frigates, five corvettes, six transports, and 
two small vessels in the middle of December 1796. 
Two of the battleships collided, a third foundered, 
and the various divisions were scattered almost at the 
beginning. Two ships only acquitted themselves with 
honour. These were the Trajan, which escaped after 


The Story of the British Navy 

a chase of thirty-six hours, and the Droits de VHomme. 
The stubborn fight put up by the latter with Sir 
Edward Pellew's frigates the Indefatigable and the 
Amazon is the most noteworthy incident of the affair 
of Bantry Bay. She came up with the Britishers on 
January 13, 1797. A fierce action ensued, which 
continued far into the night, heavy seas frequently 
dashing into the portholes and preventing the proper 
working of the guns. At dawn both the Amazon and 
the Frenchman ran aground in Audierne Bay, thirty-five 
miles south of Brest, and eventually became total wrecks. 
Where was the main British fleet all this time, while 
the fate of Ireland trembled in the balance ? The 
fifteen sail-of-the-line under Admiral Colpoys, which 
usually cruised off Brest, had been blown thirty miles 
to the westward, and two or three frigates under Sir 
Edward Pellew alone remained to watch the enemy. 
Colpoys was not aware that the expedition had sailed 
until the day after the majority of the ships had 
reached the mouth of Bantry Bay, and then he made 
for Spithead. The fleet at Portsmouth under Lord 
Bridport, which was " at home to relieve the fleet off 
Brest, if necessary, or to pursue the enemy, if he should 
sail," according to the statement of Dundas in the 
House of Commons, got under weigh when nearly all 
the scattered units of the French fleet were on their 
homeward voyage. This unsatisfactory method of 
watching an enemy contrasts strongly with Lord 
St Vincent's later injunction to " hermetically seal 
up " the French fleets in their harbours. This policy, 
it will be remembered, was that of Hawke. Blockade 
duty at this time was almost entirely entrusted to a 
few ships, and occasionally to frigates only ; there was 
seldom a squadron before Brest in winter. 


A Truant's Fight on St Valentine's 
Day, 1797 

Where I would take a penknife, Lord St Vincent takes a 
hatchet. NELSON 

WHEN John Jervis stubbornly refused to 
enter the legal profession and determined 
to lead an honest life the sequel was of 
more lasting consequence than a good hiding. So 
defiant an attitude should have ended in discomfort 
and apology. In this particular case it aided and 
abetted a career, added several brilliant pages to the 
history-books, and was of signal service to the British 
Empire. On such apparently trivial matters destiny 
often depends. Jervis's contempt for lawyers was a 
settled conviction, which is the prerogative of youth 
and often enough the folly of old age. Barristers, 
counsel, solicitors the whole breed of brief and bag 
were rogues, for his father's coachman had told him 
so from the height and importance of the box-seat, 
and he placed implicit faith in the wisdom of that 
worthy. The world owes a large debt of gratitude to 
the old servant, whose name is recorded on no roll of 
fame. Indeed, it is doubtful if so much as a headstone 
marks the resting-place of his sacred dust. 

' Master Jackey ' obstinately fought the spectre of 
musty tomes and parchment and got his own way, just 
as years afterward he fought the solid reality of the 


The Story of the British Navy 

Spanish fleet off Cape St Vincent and defeated it. 
The lad must have had many an unpleasant, and 
perhaps painful, hour with his father, who was solicitor 
to the Admiralty, and therefore prejudiced in the 
choice of a career. He was " throwing away a good 
chance," which is the best thing to do when an 
opportunity, however golden, is without other attrac- 
tions. Your real man is an angler with a rod and 
tackle, not a fish swallowing the first available meal 
and finding a hook in hiding. The one has discrimina- 
tion ; the other lacks it. His son's pig-headedness, 
which is the term we use when folk do not see eye to 
eye with us, must have been particularly distressing 
to Jervis senior. Yet it is good to know that in due 
course he gave John his blessing and twenty pounds, 
which was better than being cut off with a shilling, 
though he never added to his initial contribution 
by a solitary copper. Swynfen Jervis accepted the 
inevitable as a barrister accepts a verdict against a 
client and recognizes that there is no likelihood of 
a successful appeal. 

It was a family acquaintance who came to John's 
rescue, as such folk are apt to do when matters of 
paternal policy that promise well in theory show 
unmistakable signs of failing in practice. The affair 
was brought to a head by a most heinous offence on 
the part of the boy. The nature of the misdemeanour 
looks so terrible in print that we will not state it until 
it is absolutely imperative. He committed a crime 
against schoolboy morals. To use an apparent Irishism, 
he broke the Scout Law before there was one. He 
played truant ! He ran away from school at Greenwich 
with a chum named Strachan, afterward father of 
Admiral Sir Richard Strachan, who captured four 

A Truant's Fight 

French ships which escaped after Trafalgar. The boys 
hied themselves to Woolwich and became stowaways 
on a ship lying in the river. Whether they were dis- 
covered and sent about their business in the rough- 
and-ready fashion of sailors by being booted off the 
deck, or merely found the situation not quite so 
romantic as they had anticipated, is a secret which 
time has failed to divulge. Romance is robbed of its 
glamour when it is slow of development. Instead of 
the vessel moving majestically on its way it remained 
at anchor. There were no bellowing sails and the 
piping of the bosun's whistle ; merely stuffiness and 
the reek of bilge. The experience evidently made a 
deep impression on the embryo First Sea Lord, which 
should be no cause for surprise. When he was an old 
man and a peer of the realm he referred to having 
suffered " much privation and misery " during his 
three days' escapade. He reached home at night, told 
his sisters what had happened, and was ungraciously 
informed that Mr Swinton, his schoolmaster, would 
give him a good hiding. Why a hiding is always 
dubbed ' good ' usually passes a victim's understanding. 
The miscreant's reply was expressive and character- 
istic. He bluntly told them that as he did not intend 
to go back to school their prophecy was not likely to 
be fulfilled. Moreover, he was going to be a sailor. He 
refused to surrender to the law, privation and misery 
notwithstanding. If he was not actually rude he was 
certainly blunt and matter-of-fact. Brusqueness was 
part and parcel of his personality. All circumstances 
considered, it was perhaps as well for him that his 
father happened to be away at the time. 

On the following day John repeated his settled 
conviction to his mother. She wanted her son to be 


The Story of the British Navy 

' respectable,' inasmuch as one of her brothers was 
none other than Sir Thomas Parker, Lord Chief Baron 
of the Exchequer. The good woman had no desire to 
part from her son, who was at least comparatively 
safe when on land and within reach, whereas the sea 
offered the most dire possibilities and had not so much 
as a single redeeming feature. She confessed her grief 
to Lady Archibald Hamilton, wife of the Governor of 
Greenwich Hospital. The tale she told that amiable 
soul was related between sobs and punctuated by 
tears. Lady Archibald held the firm opinion that her 
visitor was distressing herself unnecessarily, and 
instead of commiserating with her in having such an 
unruly son, gave her candid opinion that the sea was 
" a very honourable and a very good profession." 
Moreover, she enforced her assertion by offering to 
get the rebel a post in one of his Majesty's ships. We 
know that " a little help is worth a deal of pity," but 
in this case the help was being given to the wrong 
party. There are few things more unpleasant than 
craving sympathy and finding it not only withheld 
but regarded as foolish. We can imagine Mrs Jervis's 
outraged feelings. In her distress she sought her 
nearest available brother, also a John, who en- 
deavoured to get the boy to take a reasonable view, 
namely, Parker's own, and to give up all thoughts of 
a seafaring life. John junior was obdurate, made 
further highly uncomplimentary remarks regarding 
lawyers, and said the kindest possible things about 
mariners. Lady Archibald aided the rebellious lad 
still further by introducing him to Lady Burlington. 
It was through the gracious office of the latter that 
he made the acquaintance of Commodore Townshend, 
who was about to sail to Jamaica in H.M.S. Gloucester 

A Truant's Fight 

to take up his post as commander-in-chief on the 
West Indies station. Beyond doubt the name of the 
island was familiar to the boy, for it was then of 
relatively greater importance than it is to-day by 
reason of its sugar-plantations. Negroes, coco-nuts, 
acacias, mountains, mantees, seals, but more par- 
ticularly niggers, probably summed up the extent of 
his knowledge of the island in the Caribbean Sea. 
Such scanty information was calculated to fire am- 
bition rather than to retard it. He would see all these 
wonderful things, and more. The Commodore con- 
sented to give the boy a place on the quarter-deck of 
the Gloucester. Swynfen Jervis offered no further 
opposition, and so with deep gratitude the law was 
relegated to limbo. From that moment until the end 
of his long career ships, sailors, and the sea became the 
passion of John's life. 

The neat uniform of the midshipman of the twentieth 
century was not for John. " My coat," he said, " was 
made for me to grow up to ; it reached down to my 
heels, and was fully large in the sleeves. I had a dirk 
and a gold-laced hat." His uncle, like his father, was 
now reconciled to his nephew's choice, doubtless 
influenced to some extent by the united insistence of 
Lady Archibald and Lady Burlington that it was 
" very honourable." His first meeting with Townshend 
was devoid of glory. The gallant officer received him 
in nightcap and slippers, and merely handed him a 
letter to the first lieutenant of the ship. 

Thus at the age of fourteen, in 1748, to be exact, 
and the year of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, which 
ended hostilities between Great Britain, Spain, France, 
and Prussia, and gained Silesia for Frederick the Great, 
to be particular, John Jervis was introduced to the 


The Story of the British Navy 

whims of Father Neptune and the by no means 
pleasant conditions of the British Navy that obtained 
in the middle of the eighteenth century. The twenty 
sovereigns did not jingle in his pocket for any length 
of time after he had reached the West Indies. Greatly 
daring, he drew a bill upon his father for another 
twenty pounds. It was dishonoured. The conse- 
quence affords a clue to his character. You may 
better understand the type of man that was in the 
making by these significant facts : he no longer 
appeared at his mess, he mended and washed his 
clothes so as to save expense, and when his trousers 
wore out made another pair from the ticking of his 
bed. Henceforth he slept on the bare deck until the 
arrival of more prosperous days. 

Jervis was always in the van in volunteering for 
service in any ship of the squadron sent on special 
work. On one of these cruises he met an old quarter- 
master named Drysdale. They were mutually attracted, 
and although Jervis had little to tell his elderly com- 
panion, Drysdale taught him all he knew of the 
intricacies of navigation. We may be sure that many 
a pleasant hour was spent when compass and lead 
were laid aside for the purpose of spinning yarns. As 
for self-reliance, the pupil learnt it in a hard school. 
" The iron entered into his soul." In temperament 
he was the exact opposite of Nelson, who was warm- 
hearted and lovable, whereas Jervis was cold and 
reserved. There is no need to tell the long story of 
Jervis' s struggles, of his service with brave Sir Charles 
Saunders, who gave him his first command, of the 
part he played in Wolfe's attack on Quebec, and how 
he ordered the Porcupine to be towed by the ship's 
boats out of range of the guns of Fort Louis when a 

A Truant's Fight 

sudden calm fell at the wrong moment, of how he put 
to sea with the mutinous crew of the Albany, and of 
how he raked the French 74-gun Pegase, boarded her, 
and captured the prize, and with it a knighthood. 

Jervis succeeded the incompetent Hotham in the 
command of the Mediterranean Fleet in 1795. The 
officers under him formed a very distinguished 
company Nelson, Hood, Collingwood, Cockburn, 
Hallowell, and Troubridge. Few, if any, admirals 
have had at their service a more skilful band of 
colleagues. Jervis was worthy of them, and they 
of him. It was well for Great Britain that such was 
the case. Before the end of the year the squadrons of 
Spain, of Holland, and of France were against us, 
and Jervis had been ordered to evacuate the great 
inland sea and to abandon Corsica, which Hood had 
captured. Consider various other circumstances and 
you will realize that the present generation is not the 
only one that has had need of fortitude. Our great- 
grandfathers fought a militant France that eventually 
threatened to dominate Europe, as their descendants 
fought a militant Germany with similar ambitions. 
All honour to them, for their agony and bloody sweat 
lasted for the better part of a generation. War 
between England and France had broken out in 
February 1793. Belgium and Holland soon fell into 
the hands of the French ; Prussia and Spain came to 
terms with the Republic in 1795. Pitt, full of boundless 
optimism and negotiations, hoped for peace before the 
Easter of 1796, instead of which Sardinia broke away 
and surrendered Savoy and Nice to the enemy. In 
February of the following year, the month of Jervis' s 
greatest triumph, Britain was on the verge of losing 
the support of Austria, her last ally. The seal of 


The Story of the British Navy 

supremacy had not been set on our sea-power, despite 
" the Glorious First of June." Jervis never spoke 
truer words than when he avowed that " England was 
in need of a victory." He fought for it against great 
odds, as England has often had to fight, but he used 
brains as well as ships and the usual paraphernalia of 
naval warfare. Things were at such a low ebb that 
the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street had suspended 
payment in cash. On land the Little Corporal, then 
lank, lean Napoleon Bonaparte, was going from 
triumph to triumph, but it is significant that although 
he was essentially a soldier from the top of his head 
to the soles of his feet, whose every nerve tingled with 
military ardour, he fully realized the all-importance 
of Sea-Power. " Let us concentrate all our activity 
on our navy and destroy England. That done, Europe 
is at our feet." This is the policy that he outlined to 
the Directory, and it was an eminently sane one. It 
was not followed, and although in later years he 
endeavoured to put his own demoniac energy into 
the shipbuilding yards, he never succeeded in wresting 
the trident from the hand of Britannia. Despite 
mutiny, and losses, and bungling, England kept her 
naval nose above water, and that of her enemies under 
it or in harbour. Folk who begrudge money spent on 
the Navy, if any such remain, should ponder these 
facts and atone for past sins by turning their pockets 
inside out for additional floating defences as an offering 
of gratitude to the memory of the old-time sea-dogs who 
fought twenty-seven French and Spanish sail-of-the- 
line with fifteen British battleships on St Valentine's 
Day, 1797. 

Fortune had not been kind to Jervis' s ships during 
the previous two months. Five of them had met 

A Truant's Fight 

with serious trouble of some kind, chiefly through 
striking rocks, and two had become total wrecks, one 
an 80-gun ship, the Courageux, and the other the 
Bombay Castle (74). These losses were partly alle- 
viated by the detachment of five sail-of-the-line and 
a frigate under Rear-Admiral Sir W. Parker from the 
force commanded by Bridport after his abortive 
pursuit of the French squadron which took part in the 
famous episode of Bantry Bay. Even then the spectre 
of disaster seemed to dog Jervis. Within forty-eight 
hours of the fight off Cape St Vincent two of his 74's 
must need collide in the night, which is not surprising, 
for it was as dark as pitch and probably no stern-lights 
were carried by reason of the near presence of the 
enemy. The Colossus cut straight across the bows of 
the Culloden and played havoc with the fore-rigging 
of the latter. Fortunately there was no need for 
Captain Troubridge to take his ship back to Ports- 
mouth for repairs ; they were carried out at sea. 
The days of hemp and oak were strenuous enough in 
some things but abominably slow in others. There 
were no turbines and oil fuel to shorten the length of 
the knots, but only dank sails and tacking to lengthen 
them. A less energetic commander might have made 
the accident an excuse for a run to Spithead. 
Troubridge was not of that type. He would not have 
missed the coming scrap for worlds. 

The battle of St Vincent was brought about in this 
way. It was part and parcel of one of the many 
schemes that had been projected to invade England. 
With France it was a tradition that had become a 
definite policy. The British fleet alone blocked the 
way. Napoleon tried his hand at it later on an 
immense scale and failed. The Spanish fleet was to 


The Story of the British Navy 

sail from Cartagena for Cadiz in the first instance, 
join forces with French ships at Brest and Dutch 
vessels in the Texel, and then make for the Thames. 
The Spanish commander, Don Jos6 de Cordova, had 
apparently twenty-seven sail-of-the-line with him when 
he was sighted by the Minerve on the morning of 
February 13th ; Jervis had fifteen. The discrepancy 
in the size of the opposing ships and in weight of 
metal was enormous. Jervis had two ships of 100 guns 
each, two of 98, one of 94, two of 90, seven of 
74, and one of 64. Cordova flew his flag from the 
huge Santissima Trinidad, the Goliath of all ships 
in any navy at that time, a mammoth four-decker 
carrying no fewer than 130 guns. Her consorts con- 
sisted of half a dozen ships with 112 guns each, two 
with 80, and eighteen with 74. Of frigates, which 
Nelson rightly termed the " eyes of a fleet," Jervis had 
four, whereas Don Jos6 had twelve mounting 34 guns 
apiece. Figures are dull, unimaginative, listless things, 
but they usually have a story to tell. In this particular 
case their story is that whereas the Spanish had 2,176 
guns, the British armament consisted of 1,252 only. 

Of the three enemy fleets, that of Holland was un- 
deniably the best manned, but as the last Dutch naval 
engagement of importance had taken place off the 
Dogger Bank so far back as 1781, a more or less 
general impression prevailed that their marine had 
grown a trifle stale. On the other hand, their triumphs 
of former days were held up to sailors and landsmen 
alike as excellent examples for the posterity of De 
Ruyter and Tromp to follow. The idea that " What 
man has done, man can do " was sedulously propa- 
gated. Certainly the notion was quite good in a day 
when there were no Navy Leagues to inspire the 

A Truant's Fight 

slumbering enthusiasm of lethargic folk. Doubtless 
De Ruyter's uncharitable performance of 1667, when 
he sailed into the Medway and bombarded Chatham, 
was kept in special remembrance. To prevent the 
concentration of these forces, then, the Spanish, the 
French, and the Dutch, was the task of immediate 
concern to Jervis, and his dogged persistency of 
purpose won the day, aided and abetted, it must be 
admitted, by the audacity of a certain young officer 
of the name of Nelson and of the rank of commodore. 

There was a good deal of haze on the morning of 
the 14th, and a certain amount of it seems to cling 
to the battle yet. To be perfectly frank, some of the 
details of the fight are obscure. This is not altogether 
surprising, and is certainly not entirely characteristic 
of the days of wooden walls, dolphin-strikers, and 
cross-jack yards. The water which flows in Trafalgar 
Bay during the course of a day is scarcely more in 
volume than the ink that has been used in hopeless 
attempts to solve the problems connected with the 
battle that took place on October 21, 1805. Sea-dogs 
will apparently never tire of discussing whether it 
was the Meteor or the Arethusa which fired the final 
torpedo that gave the death - blow to the crippled 
Blucher in the second big North Sea action of the 
Great War. No one will ever know for certain, and 
that is doubtless why the heroes of the gun-turrets and 
the Big Men of the forebridges interest themselves in it. 

It was Nelson in the Minerve who first brought 
news of the coming of the Spaniards. The little one- 
eyed, one-armed man had been busy withdrawing the 
British naval stores from Porto Ferrajo, in the isle of 
Elba, and had looked into Toulon and Cartagena. 
The latter harbour was empty. Crowding on every 


The Story of the British Navy 

stitch of canvas to warn Jervis, he had scarcely 
entered the Straits of Gibraltar before he was chased 
by two Spanish line-of-battle ships. The Minerve 
was only a frigate of 36 guns, but the commodore 
told Colonel Drinkwater, as he gave a glance at his 
broad pennant, " before the Dons get hold of that bit 
of bunting I will have a struggle with them, and 
sooner than give up the frigate I'll run her ashore." 
The vessel was cleared for action, and was making 
excellent headway, when a cry arose of " Man over- 
board ! " Lieutenant Hardy and some sailors launched 
a boat, but their efforts were in vain, for the poor 
fellow sank before they could reach him. The current 
was so strong when the little band turned their craft 
that they found it impossible to get back. Meanwhile 
one of the Spaniards was gradually gaining on them. 
Nelson did not hesitate a moment. " I'll not lose 
Hardy," he shouted. " Back the mizzen top-sail ! " 
The manoeuvre apparently jeopardized the frigate, 
which thus voluntarily gave up the race, but in reality 
it saved the situation. Imagining by the strange 
behaviour of the Minerve that other British ships had 
been sighted, the Spaniards made no further attempt 
to bring her to action. 

A few hours later, when it was night and the weather 
inclined to be thick, Nelson passed through the Spanish 
fleet. His one eye was sufficiently bright and keen to 
discern that the signals which flashed out now and 
again were not those of his commander-in-chief but of 
Don Jose. On rejoining the fleet on the 13th he returned 
to his own ship, the Captain, of 74 guns. 

The weather on the morning of the 14th was 
extremely hazy, but Jervis knew that he was no great 
distance from the enemy because their signal-guns 

A Truant's Fight 

had been booming all the previous night. Suddenly 
the alarm was given by the Culloden, and the Bonne 
Citoyenne and other vessels began to report the 
number of ships as they approached. Jervis, walking 
the quarterdeck with Captain Hallowell, remained 
imperturbable. " There are eight sail-of-the-line, Sir 
John." " Very well, sir." " There are twenty sail- 
of-the-line, Sir John." "Very well, sir." "There 
are twenty-five sail-of-the-line." " Very well, sir." 
" There are twenty-seven sail, Sir John." The officer 
who was reading the signals then took occasion to 
remark on the overwhelming numbers of the enemy. 
" Enough, sir," retorted the Admiral, " no more of 
that ! The die is cast, and if there were fifty sail I 
would go through them." The answer evidently 
appealed to Hallowell, who smacked Jervis on the 
back and said in his bluff and hearty way, " That's 
right, Sir John, that's right. We shall give them a 
good licking." He flung in one or two adjectives 
which may be forgiven an enthusiastic naval officer. 

If the man with the telescope betrayed surprise, 
we may be sure that Don Jose was by no means in 
an easy frame of mind when he knew the exact number 
of British ships as they appeared in two close divisions 
on the starboard tack. He had been told by a neutral 
vessel that Jervis had nine sail-of-the-line, apparently 
part of a convoy, and here were fifteen ! The Spanish 
admiral knew perfectly well that notwithstanding the 
imposing appearance of his armada it suffered from 
defects which were the direct results of neglect and 
gross mismanagement. Many of the officers were 
totally unfit and ill-trained, men who had obtained 
their positions by influence, while the sailors and gun- 
ners were made up of all sorts and conditions of men, 


The Story of the British Navy 

including jail-birds. As we have seen, the Spanish 
fleet was vastly superior in weight of metal, but the 
calibre of a cannon is not the only consideration. 
Most of the ships were good sailers and superior in 
speed to the British, but they were grossly under- 
manned, and sheets are not automatic. 

At ten o'clock or thereabouts the fog lifted. The 
Spaniards were making for their port of destination, 
their ships in two straggling columns numbering 
twenty-one and six respectively, divided by several 
miles. While the smaller, or leeward, division was 
endeavouring to shorten the distance, Jervis sent 
half a dozen ships to chase the enemy, and shortly 
afterward brought his vessels into a single column, 
placing them between the two sections of the Don's 
forces. " We flew to them as a hawk to his prey," 
says Collingwood, " passed through them in the dis- 
ordered state in which they were, separated them 
into two distinct parts, and then tacked upon their 
largest division." One ship of the leeward body 
turned tail and disappeared. The windward division 
now attempted to join forces with its consorts, but 
only three succeeded in doing so, bringing the total 
of the leeward ships to eight. Jervis determined to 
attack the main force first. Up went the signal to 
tack in succession, that is to say, each ship was to 
turn where the previous ship had turned as soon as 
she reached the position. It was repeated all along 
the line in answer, Troubridge in the Culloden, which 
was the leading ship in the column, being the first to 
acknowledge the order. For once Jervis betrayed 
emotion. " Look at Troubridge," he exclaimed ; "he 
handles his ship as if the eyes of all England were 
upon him, and would to God they were ! " The 

A Truant's Fight 

commander-in-chief s flagship, the Victory, was the 
seventh in the line, and as she was still pursuing her 
course before tacking, the Principe de Asturias and 
one or two ships of the Spanish leeward division 
attempted to break through the British line. If the 
Culloden had gained a mead of praise from Jervis, 
the Victory most certainly did at that moment. She 
was thrown into stays, and greeted the huge three- 
decker of 112 guns with a broadside that raked the 
Spanish vice-admiral's ship and made the Victory 
quiver from stem to stern. So devastating was the fire 
that the Principe de Asturias and her consorts fell off 
and made no further attempts of this description. 
In a word, the former was badly mauled at the 
beginning of the fight. The Culloden and the other 
ships which had turned were now busily engaged 
with the rear of the Spanish windward division, but 
Cordova's leading vessels, or his van, to be techni- 
cally correct, were well in advance. With these he 
attempted to get round the British rear and join the 
leeward division. Nelson, in the third ship from the 
end, instead of carrying out the Admiral's order to 
tack in succession, executed a most daring manoeuvre. 
The Captain, the smallest 74 in the British fleet, 
swung out of line, passed between the Diadem and 
the Excellent, that were following, crossed the bows of 
the oncoming Spaniards, and boldly attacked the 
Santissima Trinidad, the largest ship in the world. 
The Commodore was after big game, for the great 
floating fort of four decks and 132 guns bore Cordova's 
flag. He was immediately supported by Troubridge in 
the Culloden. Nelson, while definitely stating that he 
did not pretend to be correct as to time, believed 
that they fought half a dozen ships for " near an 


The Story of the British Navy 

hour " without assistance, and was pleased to term 
the engagement an " apparently, but not really, 
unequal contest." The logs of various other vessels 
show that help was not long in arriving, though he 
was unaware of it, possibly by reason of the smoke. 
The Blenheim particularly distinguished herself by 
coming up and interposing between the Captain and 
the Culloden. The Salvador del Mondo and the San 
Isidro dropped astern. Collingwood, in the Excellent, 
then appeared and opened a withering fire on the 
former at close quarters. It was not long before her 
colours fluttered to the deck and the Spanish first-rate 
of 112 guns ceased fire. Collingwood understood by 
signs made by the individual who had hauled down 
the flag that the Salvador del Mondo had surrendered. 
He therefore passed on to the next ship, leaving the 
prize to be secured by another vessel. As he was 
forging ahead he was amazed to find the afore- 
mentioned colours flying from the masthead and her 
armament in action. However, he came up with the 
San Isidro, and brought the Excellent so close " that 
a man might jump from one ship to the other," to use 
his own phrase. British gunnery quickly decided the 
fate of the day so far as the Spanish 74 was concerned, 
for inside of ten minutes she gave up. Having been 
deceived in the matter of the Salvador del Mondo, 
Collingwood did not intend to lay himself open to 
further tricks of a similar kind. He blandly informed 
the commander that he must run up the British flag. 
This was done before Collingwood carried out further 
operations. He then signalled to another ship to 
board the prize, crowded on all sail, and passing 
between the British line and the enemy, engaged the 
80-gun ship the San Nicolas, which, together with the 

A Truant's Fight 

San Josef, was hammering away at the Captain. " We 
did not touch sides," Collingwood admits, " but you 
could not put a bodkin between us, so that our shot 
passed through both ships " the San Josef (112) was 
abreast of her consort " and, in attempting to 
extricate themselves, they got on board each other." 
In other words, the riggings of the two ships became 
hopelessly entangled. The Excellent' s broadsides worked 
frightful havoc, and the guns kept at it until the 
enemy ceased firing. " My good friend, the Commo- 
dore," adds Collingwood, " had been long engaged with 
those ships, and I came happily to his relief, for he 
was dreadfully mauled." 

Meanwhile Nelson had laid his ship " on board " 
the San Nicolas. No sooner was the port cathead of 
the Captain locked in the quarter-gallery of the former 
than he gave the order to " Board ! " " The soldiers 
of the 69th," he writes, " with an alacrity which will 
ever do them credit, and Lieutenant Pearson, of the 
same regiment, were almost the foremost on this 
service. The first man who jumped into the enemy's 
mizzen-chains was Captain Barry, late my first lieu- 
tenant (Captain Miller was in the very act of going 
also, but I directed him to remain) ; he was supported 
from our spritsail-yard, which hooked in the mizzen- 
rigging. A soldier of the 69th Regiment having broke 
the upper quarter-gallery window, I jumped in myself, 
and was followed by others as fast as possible. I 
found the cabin-doors fastened, and some Spanish 
officers fired their pistols ; but, having broke open 
the doors, the soldiers fired, and the Spanish brigadier 
(Commodore with a distinguishing pendant) fell, in 
retreating to the quarter-deck. I pushed immediately 
onwards for the quarter-deck, where I found Captain 


The Story of the British Navy 

Barry in possession of the poop, and the Spanish 
ensign hauling down. I passed with my people and 
Lieutenant Pearson, on the larboard gangway, to the 
forecastle, where I met two or three Spanish officers, 
prisoners to my seamen ; they delivered me their 
swords. A fire of pistols or muskets opening from 
the Admiral's stern-gallery of the San Josef, I directed 
the soldiers to fire into her stern ; and, calling to 
Captain Miller, ordered him to send more men into 
the San Nicolas, and directed my people to board 
the first-rate, which was done in an instant, Captain 
Barry assisting me into the main chains. At this 
moment a Spanish officer looked over the quarter- 
deck rail, and said they surrendered. From this most 
welcome intelligence, it was not long before I was on 
the quarter-deck, where the Spanish captain, with a 
bow, presented me his sword, and said the Admiral 
was dying of his wounds. I asked him, on his honour, 
if the ship was surrendered. He declared she was, 
on which I gave him my hand, and desired him to call 
on his officers and ship's company and tell them of it ; 
which he did ; and on the quarter-deck of a Spanish 
first-rate, extravagant as the story may seem, did I 
receive the swords of vanquished Spaniards, which as 
I received I gave to William Fearney, one of my 
bargemen, who put them, with the greatest sang-froid, 
under his arm. I was surrounded by Captain Barry, 
Lieutenant Pearson, of the 69th Regiment, John Sykes, 
John Thompson, Francis Cook, all old Agamemnons, 
and several other brave men, seamen and soldiers. 
Thus fell these ships." 

Twice after the San Nicolas had been captured 
fire broke out in the forehold, and was extinguished 
by the prize crew. The Captain was so damaged that 

A Truant's Fight 

Nelson transferred his broad pennant to the Irresistible, 
the former ship being taken in tow by the Minerve. 
The rigging and bending sails had been cut to pieces, 
the wheel and fore-topmast shot away, and the masts 
severely damaged. 

Collingwood had passed on to Cordova's flagship, 
but the masts, sails, and rigging of the Excellent had 
been so roughly mauled that she could not be brought 
as close to the enemy as Collingwood wished. In the 
hour's fight that ensued the British vessel received 
further wounds, but did not leave the Santissima 
Trinidad before the enemy was a complete wreck. 
Toward evening several of the latter' s consorts came up, 
and Jervis flew the signal to withdraw. Collingwood 
secured a souvenir in the shape of a 50-lb. shot which 
had been hurled on board by one of Cordova's guns. 

The Blenheim also attacked the Santissima Trinidad, 
and when she and the Excellent discontinued the action 
the engagement was renewed by the Orion and the 
Egmont. " 55 minutes past 4," the log of the Orion 
records, " she struck and hoisted English colours, but 
we were obliged to abandon her, as several of their 
3-deck ships which had been but little in action came 
down to their assistance, and the day being far spent, 
we discontinued the action. . . ." 

Four Spanish sail-of-the-line were captured. Critics, 
both naval and lay, have said that there ought to 
have been more. Some have gone further and sug- 
gested that Jervis missed the opportunity of his life 
to annihilate the allied fleet, as Jellicoe is alleged to 
have failed at Jutland. The Admiral certainly seems 
to have been over-anxious to secure his prizes. A 
comparison of the log-books of the various ships is 
interesting. The master of the Orion writes that at 


The Story of the British Navy 

4.55 p.m. the flagship of the Spanish commander-in- 
chief, with which they had been in action, " struck 
and hoisted English colours, but we was (sic) obliged 
to abandon her, as several of their 3-deck ships which 
had been but little in action came down to their 
assistance, and the day being far spent, we dis- 
continued the action, and brought to on the starboard 
tack in close order of battle with the 4 ships which we 
had possession of, the Spanish fleet in a line on the 
larboard tack to windward of us. Observing several 
of their heavy ships coming down with an intention 
to rake the Britannia, both of us opened a heavy fire 
on them, which obliged them to haul off. At 6, both 
English and Spanish fleets lying to on different tacks. 
Employed the whole night repairing our damages, 
ready for renewing the action." 1 

One of Jervis's obiter dicta was " The test of a 
man's courage is responsibility," and he acted up to 
it when Captain Calder hinted that Nelson had made 
an unauthorized departure from the prescribed mode 
of attack. " It certainly was so," replied .Tervis, 
" and if ever you commit such a breach of your 
orders, I will forgive you also." 

In discussing his tactics after the action, Nelson 
explained that " The Admiral's intention, I saw, was 
to cut off the detached squadron of light sail, and 
afterwards attack the main body, weakened by the 
separation. Observing, however, as our squadron 
advanced and became engaged with the enemy's 
ships, that the main body of the enemy were pushing 
to join their friends to leeward by passing in the rear 

i Logs of the Great Sea Fights, 1794-1805, edited by T. Sturges 
Jackson, Rear-Admiral, vol. i, pp. 232-3 (London : Navy Records 
Society, 1909). 

A Truant's Fight 

of our squadron, I thought unless by some prompt 
and extraordinary measure the main body could be 
diverted from this course until Sir John at that 
time in action on the Victory could see their plan, 
his well-arranged designs on the enemy would be 

Further criticism has been levelled at the old sea- 
dog because he did not make more of the Commodore's 
action. Yet Jervis received Nelson on the quarterdeck 
of the flagship, took him in his arms, and kissed him, 
using " every kind expression which could not fail to 
make me happy," as the hero of the occasion avowed. 

Calder arrived in London with Jervis' s dispatch on 
March 3, 1797. On occasion they did things quicker 
in the eighteenth century than they do in the 
twentieth. England was in need of a victory, as 
Jervis had avowed, and he had given her one. The 
House of Commons passed a vote of thanks without 
delay, and the Upper House followed suit on the 
8th. Sir John was created Earl of St Vincent, with a 
pension of 3,000 a year, Vice- Admiral Charles Thomp- 
son and Rear- Admiral William Parker became baronets, 
and Nelson was given the K.C.B. 

" The highest rewards are due to you and Culloden," 
wrote Collingwood to Nelson : " you formed the plan 
of attack we were only accessories to the Don's 
ruin ; for, had they got on the other tack, they would 
have been sooner joined, and the business would have 
been less complete." " ' A friend in need is a friend 
indeed,' ' Nelson replied, " was never more truly 
verified than by your most noble and gallant conduct 
yesterday in sparing the Captain from further loss, 
and I beg, both as a public officer and a friend, you 
will accept my most sincere thanks." 



Camperdown and the Nile 

Some day we shall lose the Empire, because it is Buggins's 
turn. FISHER 

MUTINIES have been few and far between in 
the British Navy. Two broke out in 1797. 
Whereas previous outbreaks had been con- 
fined to single ships, ' the breeze at Spithead ' involved 
a fleet. The grievances of the sailors were legitimate 
enough. One shilling a day for an able seaman and 
other ratings in proportion, leave to men when in port, 
the removal of long-standing differences regarding 
pensions, and better food summed up their demands. 
Lack of sympathy between the executive and admin- 
istrative branches was the primary cause. Respectful 
petitions had been presented without avail. Eventu- 
ally Howe posted from London with a brand-new Act 
of Parliament in his pocket and full powers to settle 
the dispute. 

In the same week that the mutineers of Portsmouth 
and Plymouth returned to their legitimate duties 
trouble broke out at the Nore. The ringleader was 
Richard Parker. After a few weeks the men sur- 
rendered their vessels, the last being the Sandwich, 
which was brought in by the crew with the erstwhile 
leader a prisoner. Parker was hanged from the yard- 
arm, and a career not lacking in romance was ended. 

It was well that the Dutch did not take the offensive 

Camperdown and the Nile 

at so perilous a time. They waited until October, 
when Vice-Admiral De Winter led a fleet of fifteen 
sail-of-the-line, a dozen frigates, and several brigs out 
of the Texel. On the llth he was met by Admiral 
Duncan, who had at his command, though they 
did not all take an active part in the fight, six- 
teen battleships, eight frigates, and other vessels. 
According to the log-book of Duncan's flagship, the 
Venerable (74), " during the greatest part of the action, 
the weather was variable, with showers of rain, till 
half-past two o'clock, when it fell almost calm." 

When the action began the Dutch coast was not more 
than seven miles distant, and the fleets were off the 
village of Camperdown, from which the battle took 
its name. 

" About thirty minutes past twelve," to quote the 
same authority, " the action commenced by Vice- 
Admiral Onslow (second in command), in the Monarch, 
who broke through the enemy's line, passed under the 
Dutch Vice- Admiral's stern, and engaged him to lee- 
ward. The Venerable intended to engage the Dutch 
Commander-in-Chief, was prevented by the States 
General, of 76 guns, bearing a blue flag at the mizzen, 
shooting close up him ; we therefore put our helm 
to port, run under his stern, engaged him close, and 
soon forced him to run out of the line. The Venerable 
then fell alongside of the Dutch Admiral De Winter, 
in the Vryheid, who was for some time well supported, 
and kept up a very heavy fire upon us. At one 
o'clock, the action was pretty general, except by two 
or three of the van ships of the enemy's line, which 
got off without the smallest apparent injury. About 
half an hour after the commencement of the action 
on the part of the Venerable, who began only five 


The Story of the British Navy 

minutes later than our own Vice- Admiral, the Hercules, 
a Dutch ship of 64 guns, caught fire ahead of us ; she 
wore, and drove very near our ship to leeward, while 
we were engaged, and very roughly handled, by four 
ships of the enemy. A little before three o'clock, 
while passing to leeward of the Dutch Admiral and 
Commander-in-Chief on the opposite tack, our star- 
board broadside was fired, which took place prin- 
cipally among the rigging, as all her masts came 
immediately by the board ; soon after he struck his 
colours, all farther opposition being vain and fruitless." 

Duncan had been unable to form a regular order of 
battle because, had he waited to do so, the enemy 
would have been too near the coast to allow of his 
breaking the line and getting between him and the 
land. De Winter was taken prisoner, and nine sail- 
of-the-line and two frigates surrendered. The British 
admiral became Viscount Duncan of Camperdown. 

On the sunny and cloudless morning of May 19, 
1798, the Toulon Fleet destined for Egypt set sail. 
Nelson's reconnoitring squadron had been forced to 
retire by a gale and made for Sardinia. With thirteen 
sail-of-the-line, all carrying 74 guns, and one 50-gun 
ship, the Rear-Admiral started in chase. After weeks 
of anxious searching he at last discovered the enemy 
moored in line of battle parallel with the shore in 
Aboukir Bay. The French fleet, under Brueys, con- 
sisted of thirteen capital ships, three carrying 80 
guns and one 120 guns, and four frigates. There 
were three great gaps between the ships, which were 
flanked by frigates and gunboats. His van was 
placed as close to Aboukir Island as was practicable, 
and on it a few guns were mounted. In tonnage and 
armament the French had the advantage ; in moral 

Camperdown and the Nile 

and fighting capacity the British were first. Napoleon 
and the army were far away adding triumph to 

Nelson determined to sail between the enemy line 
and the shallows. Five British ships, led by the 
Goliath, crossed the bows of the first ship of the French 
van, inshore of the French line, and anchored abreast 
of one of the Frenchmen, while three more, including 
Nelson's Vanguard, stationed themselves on the outer 
side. Some of the captains for various reasons were 
unable to take up their correct fighting positions ; 
the Culloden, for instance, struck a shoal and played 
no part in the battle. The enemy's van was sur- 
rounded and conquered, the centre became engaged, 
the rear alone escaped, Villeneuve, its commander, 
making off with two battleships and two frigates 
without attempting to fight. 

" The actions," Captain Berry relates, " commenced 
at sunset. ... At about seven o'clock total darkness 
had come on, but the whole hemisphere was, with 
intervals, illuminated by the fire of the hostile fleets. 
Our ships, when darkness came on, had all hoisted 
their distinguishing lights, by a signal from the 
Admiral. The van ship of the enemy, Le Guerrier, 
was dismantled in less than twelve minutes, and, in 
ten minutes after, the second ship, Le Conquerant, 
and the third, Le Spartiate, very nearly at the same 
moment were almost dismasted. L'Aquilon and Le 
Peuple Souverain, the fourth and fifth ships of the 
enemy's line, were taken possession of by the British 
at half-past eight in the evening. Captain Berry, at 
that hour, sent Lieutenant Galwey, of the Vanguard, 
with a party of marines, to take possession of 
Le Spartiate, and that officer returned by the boat 


The Story of the British Navy 

the French captain's sword, which Captain Berry 
immediately delivered to the Admiral, who was then 
below, in consequence of the severe wound which he 
had received in the head during the heat of the attack. 
" At this time it appeared that victory had already 
declared itself in our favour, for, although L 'Orient, 
L'Heureux, and Tonnant were not taken possession of, 
they were considered as completely in our power. 
... At ten minutes after ten, a fire was observed 
on board L' Orient, the French Admiral's ship, which 
seemed to proceed from the after part of the cabin, 
and which increased with great rapidity, presently 
involving the whole of the after part of the ship in 
flames. This circumstance Captain Berry immediately 
communicated to the Admiral, who, though suffering 
severely from his wound, came up on deck, where the 
first consideration that struck his mind was concern 
for the danger of so many lives, to save as many as 
possible of whom he ordered Captain Berry to make 
every practicable exertion. A boat, the only one that 
could swim, was instantly dispatched from the Van- 
guard, and other ships that were in a condition to do 
so, immediately followed the example ; by which 
means, from the best possible information, the lives 
of about seventy Frenchmen were saved. The light 
thrown by the fire of UOrient upon the surrounding 
objects, enabled us to perceive with more certainty 
the situation of the two fleets, the colours of both 
being very clearly distinguishable. The cannonading 
was partially kept up to leeward of the centre till about 
ten o'clock, when L' Orient blew up with a most tre- 
mendous explosion. An awful pause and death-like 
silence for about three minutes ensued, when the 
wreck of the masts, yards, etc., which had been 

Camperdown and the Nile 

carried to a vast height, fell down into the water, 
and on board the surrounding ships. A port fire from 
L 'Orient fell into the main royal of the Alexander, the 
fire occasioned by which was, however, extinguished in 
about two minutes, by the active exertions of Captain 

" After this awful scene, the firing was recommenced 
with the ships to leeward of the centre, till twenty 
minutes past ten, when there was a total cessation of 
firing for about ten minutes ; after which it was 
revived till about three in the morning, when it again 
ceased. After the victory had been secured in the van, 
such British ships as were in a condition to move, 
had gone down upon the fresh ships of the enemy, 
which occasioned these renewals of the fight, all of 
which terminated with the same happy success in 
favour of our Flag. At five minutes past five in the 
morning, the two rear ships of the enemy, Le Guillaume 
Tell and Le Ge'nereux, were the only French ships of 
the line that had their colours flying, at fifty-four 
minutes past five, a French frigate, L' Artemise, fired 
a broadside and struck her colours ; but such was 
the unwarrantable and infamous conduct of the 
French captain, that after having thus surrendered, 
he set fire to his ship, and with part of his crew, made 
his escape on shore. Another of the French frigates, 
La Serieuse, had been sunk by the fire from some of 
our ships ; but as her poop remained above water, 
her men were saved upon it, and were taken off by 
our boats in the morning. The Bellerophon, whose 
masts and cables had been entirely shot away, could 
not retain her situation abreast of L'Orient, but had 
drifted out of the line to the lee side of the Bay a 
little before that ship blew up. The Audacious was 


The Story of the British Navy 

in the morning detached to her assistance. At eleven 
o'clock, Le Genereux and Guillaume Tell, with the 
two frigates La Justice and La Diane, cut their cables 
and stood out to sea, pursued by the Zealous, Captain 
Hood, who, as the Admiral himself has stated, hand- 
somely endeavoured to prevent their escape ; but as 
there was no other ship in a condition to support the 
Zealous, she was recalled. 

" The whole day of the 2nd was employed in 
securing the French ships that had struck, and which 
were now all completely in our possession, Le Tonnant 
and Timoleon excepted ; as these were both dismasted, 
and consequently could not escape, they were natur- 
ally the last of which we thought of taking possession. 
On the morning of the third, the Timoleon was set 
fire to, and Le Tonnant had cut her cable and drifted 
on shore, but that active officer, Captain Miller, of the 
Theseus, soon got her off again, and secured her in the 
British line." 

It was a decisive victory, the only kind of victory 
that appealed to Nelson, who styled it a " conquest." 
Of the thirteen French battleships, nine were taken, 
one was blown up, one was burnt, and two escaped ; 
one frigate sank, another was destroyed by fire, and 
two got away. Napoleon had been deprived of his 
only means of communication with France. Thus the 
sea swallowed his triumphs. From a political point 
of view the battle of the Nile paved the way for the 
formation of the Second Coalition against France, in 
which England, Russia, Austria, Turkey, Naples, and 
Portugal took part. For his brilliant services Nelson 
was created a baron and voted a pension of 2,000 
a year, which was also to be paid to his two next 
heirs. The Earl of St Vincent, the commander-in-chief, 

Camperdown and the Nile 

enthusiastically referred to the battle of the Nile as 
" the greatest achievement the history of the world 
can produce." 

To "Fighting" Berry the Admiral entrusted the 
charge of his dispatches for St Vincent, for which 
purpose he was given the Leander (50). With grim 
irony Fate played a trick entirely unworthy so gallant 
an officer. On August 18th, off Gozo, near Candia, 
the Genereux, which had escaped, appeared on the 
horizon. Berry attempted to show a clean pair of 
heels, but recognizing that the enemy was gaining 
in the race, sail was shortened and the decks cleared 
for action. The brave defenders of the Leander resisted 
manfully for over six hours until the mastless, rudder- 
less hulk could be fought no longer. Berry, who was 
wounded, together with the officers and crew, was taken 
prisoner. On being exchanged, the captain received 
the honour of knighthood. He got even with the 
French after all, for in 1799 he turned the tables on 
the victors by capturing the Genereux. 



How Nelson Taught the Danes 
a Lesson 

1 have a right to be blind sometimes. 


SO far back as 1780 Russia, Sweden, and Den- 
mark had entered into a league of armed 
neutrality by which, in the terse summing up 
of Sir J. K. Laughton, they had " bound themselves 
to resist the right of 4 visit and search ' claimed by the 
belligerents, and to enforce the acceptance of certain 
principles of so-called international law : among others, 
the security of a belligerent's property under a neutral 
flag ' a free ship makes free goods ' ; that a blockade 
to be binding must be maintained by an adequate 
force ; and that ' contraband of war ' must be dis- 
tinctly defined beforehand. As these principles, if 
admitted by England, amounted to the import by 
France of naval stores masts, hemp, tar from the 
Baltic, to be paid for by French exports, the English 
Government was resolved to contest them." From 
1793 to 1800 Sweden and Denmark were neutral, but 
Great Britain, secure in her maritime supremacy, had 
continued to search merchant-ships, whether convoyed 
by a vessel of war or not. Matters were brought to 
a crisis by the capture of a Danish frigate in July 
1800, and the subsequent passage of the Sound by 
a British squadron. At the moment Denmark was 

Nelson and the Danes 

not prepared for hostilities, and entered into a conven- 
tion with Great Britain which admitted the right of 

When, a little later, the half-crazy Czar, dissatisfied 
with England as an ally, and led on by specious 
promises on the part of Napoleon, definitely renewed 
the League, the two Baltic Powers willingly joined 
him. He laid an embargo on all British ships in 
Russian ports, and generally showed that it was a 
case of " off with the old love and on with the new." 

It was thought in England that negotiations, backed 
by a strong fleet, would be sufficient to sever Denmark 
from the alliance. With this object in view fifteen 
line-of-battle ships, afterward increased to eighteen, 
sailed early in March 1801. Soldiers were on board 
for service if required, and there was a considerable 
collection of smaller vessels. 

The first general rendezvous was the Skaw. A 
period of heavy weather bad winds, sleet, snow, 
frost, and rain had set in. Believers in omens not 
unnaturally predicted the ill-success of the expedition, 
which was intensified by the loss of the Invincible (74) 
with some 400 souls. She struck a sandbank, floated 
off into deep water, and then went down. 

The proposed terms were definitely refused by 
Denmark, but Nelson's ," bold measure " of detaching 
part of the British fleet to attack the Russian squad- 
ron at Revel, while the other attacked the capital, did 
not appeal to the unimaginative Sir Hyde Parker, 
the commander-in-chief. Copenhagen must first be 
overcome. Eventually it was decided to make the 
passage by the Sound. 

The British fleet, in order of battle, slowly threaded 
its way through the shoals on March 30th. Nelson 


The Story of the British Navy 

commanded the van, Parker the centre, and Graves 
the rear. The guns of Cronenburg Castle, dominating 
the Sound, blazed away, as did those on the armed 
hulks defending the narrow channel, but the Swedish 
guns maintained a stolid silence. The fleet anchored 
a few miles below Copenhagen. Parker, Nelson, and 
several other officers boarded a lugger to reconnoitre 
the enemy's defences. Various soundings were made 
to the accompaniment of gun-firing, and it was found 
that the enemy had placed a formidable flotilla of 
thirty-three vessels, some fully rigged and others dis- 
masted, including two 74-gun ships, a 70-gun ship, 
two 64-gun ships, and floating batteries in front of 
the harbour and arsenal. The Trekroner forts had also 
been strengthened, and there were cannon on shore. 

To Nelson a dozen sail-of-the-line, eighteen frigates, 
and a number of minor vessels were assigned. Leaving 
the main body of the fleet on April 1st, he coasted 
along the outer edge of the shoal known as the Middle 
Ground, and reaching the Sound end, dropped anchor. 

On the following morning several accidents marred 
the opening phase of the operations. Three battle- 
ships ran aground. The Jamaica frigate, with a 
convoy of gunboats that were unable to stem the 
counter current, made the signal of inability to 

" A mind less invincible than Nelson's might have 
been discouraged," writes Mr Ferguson, surgeon of 
the Elephant : " though the battle had not commenced 
yet he had approached the enemy ; and he felt that 
he could not retreat or wait for reinforcements without 
compromising the glory of his country. The signal to 
bear down was still kept flying. His agitation during 
these moments was extreme ; I shall never forget 

Nelson and the Danes 

the impression it made on me. It was not, however, 
the agitation of indecision, but of ardent, animated 
patriotism, panting for glory, which had appeared 
within his reach, and was vanishing from his grasp." 

The following account of the battle of Copenhagen 
is based on that of Colonel William Stewart, an eye- 
witness, and " a very fine gallant man " according 
to Nelson. 

By 11.30 a.m. the battle was general. Captain 
Riou, in command of the frigates, attempted to carry 
out the work assigned to the three unfortunate battle- 
ships which had run aground, and boldly attacked 
the Trekroner forts and the ships stationed near them. 
That splendid officer, whose vessels suffered severely, 
continued to fight until Parker flew the general signal 
of recall, and he was killed when retiring. The order 
was given at about 1 p.m., by which time the I sis 
(50) was badly damaged, and both that ship and the 
Bellona (74) had suffered injury from bursting guns. 
The fire of two Danish vessels had also concentrated 
on the Monarch (74), Nelson's flagship the Elephant 
(74) was being tackled by the Dannebrog (74) and two 
big prames, the Bellona (74) and Russell (74) were 
flying signals of distress, and the Agamemnon (64) 
was aground. 

When the signal to discontinue the engagement 
was hoisted Nelson certainly put his glass to his blind 
eye and exclaimed to Captain Foley, " I really do not 
see the signal," but the incident is bereft of much of 
its romance by the knowledge that Parker sent a 
verbal message to the effect that the matter was left 
to Nelson's discretion. 

By two o'clock the action was practically over, 
though some of the enemy ships were still firing. An 


The Story of the British Navy 

armistice was agreed upon, Nelson consenting to land 
all the wounded Danes and to burn or remove his 
prizes. In taking out the ships three of them went 
ashore but were subsequently got off. 

An opportunity to teach the Russians a lesson was 
not vouchsafed. Paul I was murdered, and with his 
death Russian policy underwent a complete change 
toward Great Britain. The castles in the air for the 
overthrow of British rule in India which the eccentric 
Czar and Napoleon had hoped to place on solid foun- 
dations disappeared as mist before the sun. Paul's 
successor, Alexander I, knowing full well the enormous 
importance of the British market for Russian goods, 
lost no time in coming to terms with England. 
Shortly afterward Sweden, Denmark, and Prussia 
followed his example. The much-boasted Maritime 
Confederacy was quietly relegated to the limbo of 
defeated schemes for the downfall of the great sea- 

In his dispatch to the Admiralty Parker paid a 
worthy tribute to Nelson, and added, " I have only 
to lament that the sort of attack, confined within an 
intricate and narrow passage, excluded the ships 
particularly under my command from the oppor- 
tunity of exhibiting their valour ; but I can with 
great truth assert, that the same spirit and zeal 
animated the whole of the Fleet ; and I trust that 
the contest in which we were engaged, will on some 
future day afford them an occasion of showing that 
the whole were inspired with the same spirit, had the 
field been sufficiently extensive to have brought it 
into action." 

On March 27, 1802, the Peace of Amiens was signed. 
Great Britain agreed to give up Egypt to the Sublime 

Nelson and the Danes 

Porte ; the Cape of Good Hope was made over to 
Holland, along with Berbice, Demerara, Essequibo, and 
Surinam ; Malta was to be evacuated and restored 
to the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem ; 
and all the French colonies taken in the war were to 
be returned. For these concessions Great Britain 
obtained Ceylon and Trinidad, France also agreeing 
to withdraw from Naples and the Roman States ; 
Portugal was to be an independent kingdom, and the 
Newfoundland fisheries were to be on exactly the 
same footing as before the outbreak of war. 

Speaking on the day on which the preliminaries of 
peace were laid before Parliament, Pitt emphasized 
his belief in the proverb, " In times of peace prepare 
for war." History has proved its truth, though there 
are some who argue that it is provocative. " The 
object," he stated, " which must naturally first present 
itself to every minister must be to give additional 
vigour to our maritime strength, and security to our 
colonial possessions. It was to them we were indebted 
for the unparalleled exertions which we have been 
enabled to make in the course of this long and eventful 
contest ; it was by them that we were enabled, in the 
wreck of Europe, not only to effect our own security, 
but to hold out to our allies the means of safety, if 
they had been but true to themselves." 

George III referred to the treaty as "an experi- 
mental peace." He was right. War broke out again 
in May 1803. Napoleon had then only five sail-of- 
the-line and ten frigates in home ports actually ready 
for immediate hostilities, while the fleets in being 
totalled but twenty-three battleships, twenty-seven 
frigates, and ninety-seven smaller vessels, including 
transports. The First Consul's finest ships were either 


The Story of the British Navy 

in the Indian Ocean or at or about to leave San 
Domingo, Martinique, French Guiana, and Senegal. 
Of the Batavian navy of sixteen sail-of-the-line, six 
only were modern, six were in India or on the high 
seas, and the remainder were in bad condition. 

Britain had no fewer than fifty-two battleships in 
actual service. Within twenty-four hours of the 
declaration of hostilities Cornwallis was ploughing the 
Channel to take up his station off Ushant to mask 
the Brest Fleet. Nelson commanded in the Mediter- 
ranean, Keith was in the Downs, Gardner at Ports- 
mouth, and Montagu at Plymouth. From these fleets 
various squadrons were detached at different times to 
watch all ports in which the enemy had vessels, Pellew 
cruising off Ferrol, Collingwood off Rochefort, and 
Thorn borough off the Texel. North America was 
guarded by Vice-Admiral Sir Andrew Mitchell, the 
East Indies by Vice-Admiral Peter Rainier, Jamaica 
by Rear-Admiral Sir J. T. Duckworth, and the Lee- 
ward Islands by Commodore Sir Samuel Hood. It 
was absolutely necessary to prevent the squadrons at 
Brest, Toulon, Rochefort, Ferrol, and in the Texel 
from putting to sea, or, to be strictly accurate, from 
escaping without giving fight. St Vincent was still 
at the head of the Admiralty, but unfortunately few 
of the vessels belonging to the various blockading and 
defence squadrons were in first-class condition. Nelson 
complained bitterly, even going so far as to state that 
some of them were unseaworthy. The furious gales 
played havoc with the ships, and the ships played 
havoc with the men. 




There never was such a combat since England had a fleet. 


FOR two years Napoleon devoted much of his 
colossal energy to preparations for the invasion 
of England. An army of 130,000 troops was to 
cross in small boats convoyed by the Navy proper. 
His main difficulty, of course, was to concentrate his 
battleships, for unless they could elude the vigilance 
of Britain's naval policemen on the sea-beat outside 
their harbours or defeat them in open fight, no 
meeting at a general rendezvous was possible. 

Napoleon's strategy, if somewhat involved, was 
deeply laid. The commanders at Rochefort and 
Toulon were to effect their escape and make for 
Martinique and Cayenne respectively. Having spread 
red ruin in the British West Indies, they were to 
unite, release the squadron at Ferrol, and return to 
Rochefort to threaten Cornwallis, who would thus be 
precluded from lending assistance elsewhere. Admiral 
Ganteaume at Brest was to play the chief part. He 
was to make a descent on Ireland while his colleagues 
were crossing the Atlantic and then cover the invading 
army from Boulogne. 

In January 1805 Missiessy escaped from Rochefort, 
and a week later Villeneuve left Toulon. Nelson gave 
chase immediately information of these happenings 


The Story of the British Navy 

came to hand. He sailed for Egypt, and off Malta 
learned that the Toulon Fleet had put back to port 
badly crippled. On March 30th Villeneuve made 
another start with eleven ships, his instructions being 
to release the Spanish squadron at Cadiz and then 
make for Martinique and unite with Missiessy. Gan- 
teaume's fleet at Brest was to rally fifteen vessels at 
Ferrol, and also to proceed to the West Indies. The 
fifty-nine battleships thus congregated would recross 
the Atlantic and convoy the Boulogne flotilla to 

Nelson scoured the Mediterranean without success, 
and then made for the West Indies. He touched at 
Barbados, Tobago, Trinidad, Grenada, Montserrat, 
and Antigua, sent a brig to inform the Admiralty of 
the probable return of the allied fleet to Europe, and, 
discerning the likelihood of Ferrol as an anchorage 
for the missing enemy, forwarded a warning to Sir 
Robert Calder. 

After a perilous voyage Villeneuve, who had not 
effected a junction with Missiessy because the latter 
had not waited for him, was approaching Ferrol in 
thick weather on July 22nd, when he was confronted 
by the squadron of fifteen battleships and four smaller 
vessels which had been sent by the Admiralty to await 
his coming. The action which followed was anything 
but decisive. The fleet Nelson had longed to anni- 
hilate was allowed to escape by Calder, who captured 
a couple of Spanish sail-of-the-line. 

Early in the morning of September 2nd Captain 
Blackwood brought news to Nelson that Villeneuve, 
largely augmented, was at Cadiz. Nelson was then at 
Merton Place, after having been absent from home 
twenty-seven months and chased the enemy nearly 


7,000 miles. He hoisted his flag on the Victory (100) 
as commander-in-chief, his force consisting of twenty- 
seven battleships, four frigates, a schooner, and a 
cutter. The allied French and Spanish fleet was 
stronger by six sail-of-the-line, though the total 
British broadside was only 1,000 Ib. less. Their 
mission was to support Napoleon's army in the south 
of Italy, for the invasion plan had been abandoned 
and the Austerlitz campaign substituted. 

On October 21st the two fleets sighted each other. 
Villeneuve signalled his ships to form in line of battle 
on the port tack. Many of them missed their station, 
and there were several gaps and groups of ships along 
the line instead of vessels at regular intervals. The 
newly formed line was consequently very irregular 
and almost crescent-shaped. Villeneuve, prudent to 
a fault, wished to have Cadiz harbour under his lee ; 
he was apparently already lending his mind to 
thoughts of disaster. Gravina, the Spanish admiral, 
with twelve reserve ships, instead of keeping to wind- 
ward of the line, so that he might bring succour to 
Villeneuve if need should arise, prolonged the line to 
the rear. Dumanoir Le Pelley fell to leeward and 
formed a rear squadron of ten ships. 

The British fleet was formed into two columns, 
twelve ships following the Victory, and fifteen in the 
rear of the Royal Sovereign (100), under Collingwood. 
Nelson's idea was to bear down upon the enemy with 
these two divisions and break the centre of the com- 
bined fleet in two places at once, himself leading the 
weather line, and Collingwood the lee. 

At about noon the first shot was fired. It came 
from a French ship. The Royal Sovereign, with the 
Belleisle (74), Mars (74), and Tonnant (80) just behind 


The Story of the British Navy 

her, forged ahead. Nelson had signalled Collingwood 
to break the enemy's line at the twelfth ship from the 
rear, but on seeing that she was only a two-decker 
Collingwood changed his course and steered straight 
for the Santa Anna, a huge Spanish ship of 112 guns 
flying Alava's flag. The Fougueux (74) then came up 
and endeavoured to prevent Collingwood from getting 
through the line. This caused the English admiral 
to order his captain to make a target of the bowsprit 
of the Frenchman and steer straight for it. For- 
tunately for the enemy she altered her course, but 
although she saved herself she did not prevent the 
Royal Sovereign from breaking the line. 

A broadside and a half tore down the huge stern 
gallery of the Santa Anna. Both ships were soon in 
a pitiable condition, but they hugged each other in a 
last desperate struggle. A terrific cannonade ensued, 
the Fougueux and the San Leandro (64) raking the 
Royal Sovereign, and the San Justo (74) and the 
Indomptable (80) lending their assistance some dis- 
tance away. Some fifteen or twenty minutes after 
Collingwood had maintained the unequal contest alone, 
several British ships came up and paid attention to 
those of the enemy which had gone to Alava's assist- 
ance. At about 2.15 p.m. the mammoth Santa Anna 
struck her flag. 

Nelson, steering more to the north so as to cut off 
the enemy's way of retreat to Cadiz, came up about 
half an hour after Collingwood had begun the engage- 
ment. As the stately flagship entered the zone of fire 
a number of Villeneuve's vessels poured a perfect 
avalanche of shot upon her decks. The wheel was 
smashed, a topmast dropped on the deck, and one of 
the launches was struck. 


Steering for the Santissima Trinidad (130), at that 
time the biggest floating arsenal ever built in Europe, 
Nelson sought to engage her, but an alteration in 
position prevented this, and he tackled the Bucentaure 
(80), Villeneuve's flagship. Crash went the 68-pdr. 
carronade into the Frenchman, and down came the 
greater part of the Bucentaure's stern. The Victory 
then grappled with the Redoutdble (74), at the same 
time receiving a hurricane of fire from the French 
Neptuno (80). 

Up in the fighting-tops of the Redoutable were 
riflemen trying to pick off the officers of the Victory. 
One marksman, a little keener - sighted or more for- 
tunately placed than the others, saw Nelson walking 
up and down with Hardy. There was a flash of fire, 
a sharp crack as the bullet sped through the ah 1 , and 
the master - mariner of Britain, of the world, of all 
time, fell in a heap upon the deck. 

For a short period the Redoutable did not return 
the Victory's fire, and thinking that the enemy was 
about to surrender the guns of the flagship also kept 
silence. But the interval had been used for another 
purpose. The French crew were swarming over the 
bulwarks of the Victory. A desperate resistance was 
offered, and Captain Adair was killed as well as 
eighteen marines and eighteen seamen. Help came 
from a sister ship. The Temeraire (98) was now astern 
of the Redoutable. She swept the decks with death. 
No fewer than 522 of the Redoutable' 's crew fell before 
she struck her colours. 

The Bucentaure and the Santissima Trinidad were 
together throughout the battle and received a suc- 
cession of attacks from various ships until they 
surrendered. Both of them were then little more 


The Story of the British Navy 

than dismasted hulks. Villeneuve fought with the 
strength of despair, but no assistance came to him 
despite his frantic efforts to attract attention. Other 
ships hauled down their flags as the day wore on, the 
Algebras (74) to the Tonnant (80), the Swiftsure (74), 
and the Bahama (74) to. the Colossus (74), the San 
Juan Nepomuceno (74) to the Dreadnought (98). 
Eighteen ships of the allied fleet were captured ; one, 
the Achille (74), blew up with a terrific explosion. 

At 5 p.m. Gravina made the signal for retreat. The 
eleven ships that followed him got away. Another 
four under Dumanoir also escaped, only to be captured 
off Cape Ortegal by Sir Richard Strachan. 

Three of the prizes escaped in a gale that followed 
the battle, and entered Cadiz harbour, two of them 
having been retaken by Cosmao Kerjulien, who put 
to sea with that object in view and lost three of his 
own ships over the transaction. Only four Trafalgar 
prizes were saved. 

Collingwood gave the number of prisoners as 20,000, 
and the monetary loss of the enemy nearly 4,000,000, 
" most of it gone to the bottom." The British loss 
was 1,690 killed and wounded ; that of the allies 
5,860, although exact figures are not obtainable. The 
total armament of the English vessels numbered 2,148 
guns, while the French had 1,356 and the Spanish 
1,270, bringing the combined force to 2,626. Whereas 
the British succeeded in firing a gun nearly once a 
minute, it took three minutes for the allied fleet to 
do so. 

Great Britain gained enormously in prestige as a 
result of Nelson's overwhelming victory. Among 
other important consequences, Trafalgar led Napoleon 
to enforce his disastrous Continental System, by means 


of which he hoped to exclude the goods of his persistent 
enemy from the Continent. This, in its turn, brought 
on the war with Russia, a big step toward the final 
catastrophe of Waterloo. 

After Trafalgar Napoleon used his maritime resources 
entirely for commerce-raiding. In the December fol- 
lowing the battle two squadrons, under Willaumez 
and Leissegues respectively, escaped from Brest, and 
Sir John Warren and Sir Richard Strachan set off 
in pursuit. Willaumez and his six ships also eluded 
Duckworth, who was off Cadiz, and at Martinique 
was equally fortunate in escaping from Cochrane. Yet 
when he returned to France he had but a sorry 
tale to tell, for while he had taken seventeen British 
merchantmen, he had lost two French battleships. 
Leissegues was met by Duckworth off San Domingo, 
and though he put up a spirited fight his five sail- 
of-the-line were outmatched by his opponent's eight. 
All his big ships were either taken or destroyed, the 
smaller fry alone escaping. In 1806 Commodore Sir 
Home Popham, with troops under Sir David Baird, 
attacked and captured Cape Town, and Hood secured 
five French frigates off Rochefort. 

Two important expeditions were undertaken in 1807. 
With seven battleships Duckworth forced the Darda- 
nelles and anchored in the Sea of Marmora, where he 
delayed instead of proceeding to bombard Constan- 
tinople. Quite naturally the Turks set to work to 
strengthen their defences, and the Admiral turned tail, 
many of the ships suffering severely from stone shot. 
An attack was also made on Egypt, but although Alex- 
andria was taken, defeat awaited the British at Rosetta, 
and the Land of the Pharaohs was evacuated. 

A secret article of the Treaty of Tilsit, signed by 


The Story of the British Navy 

Napoleon and the Czar in July 1807, was to the effect 
that should Sweden refuse to close her ports to 
England and to declare war against her, Denmark 
would be compelled to fight the former. This was to 
take effect if negotiations for peace between Great 
Britain and Russia failed. Canning, our Foreign 
Minister, was not correctly informed, and believed 
that the arrangement was to come into force im- 
mediately. Determined not to be forestalled, England 
proposed that Denmark should hand over her fleet 
until a general peace was proclaimed a proposition 
that the Prince Royal refused to entertain. 

An army of 27,000 strong under Lord Cathcart 
sailed from Yarmouth convoyed by Admiral Gambier, 
who had fought with Howe and been commander-in- 
chief of the Newfoundland Squadron and governor of 
the colony. The bombardment of Copenhagen began 
on September 2nd and ended on the 5th, when the 
British took possession of the citadel and arsenals. 
The fleet was surrendered and taken to England the 
following month. 

Until the final abdication of Napoleon the British 
Navy was constantly at its constrictive work. It 
had no rest. It supported Wellington in the Penin- 
sular War and our allies in Belgium, fought the 
United States on the question of the right of search, 
blockaded the Russian fleet, kept an eye on Sweden, 
convoyed the ill-fated Walcheren expedition, and 
remorselessly attacked enemy possessions. Santa 
Lucia, Demerara, Tobago, Surinam, Cura9oa, Cape 
Colony, Desirade, Marie Galante, Martinique, Cayenne, 
Guadeloupe, St Martin, Saba, St Eustatius, Amboyna, 
Banda Neira, Bourbon, Mauritius, Java, and Senegal 
were swept into its net. It was not always successful, 


of course, and the blockades were not quite so rigid 
as they might have been, but while a French squadron 
revictualled Corfu and Gambier failed through lack 
of energy in his attack upon Brest, while 5,314 British 
merchantmen were captured between 1803 and 1814 
against 440 French privateers taken by England, Sea- 
Power played its tremendous part in the Revolutionary 
and Napoleonic wars. It was to Captain Maitland of 
H.M.S. Bellerophon a Trafalgar ship that the fallen 
Emperor surrendered on July 15, 1815. 



The Coming of Steam and Iron 

The outstanding lesson of history is that an insular Power can 
never be crushed so long as it retains command of the sea. 


OF the arrears of work that remained for the 
Navy to clear up after the fall of Napoleon 
the most important was to rid the seas of 
marauders. Barbary corsairs and Algerine pirates did 
not merely confine their attentions to the Mediter- 
ranean ; they had committed depredations in the 
English Channel. As in the time of Elizabeth, Chris- 
tians were languishing in the pestilential dungeons of 
Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. While Lord Exmouth 
formerly Sir Edward Pellew secured the release of 
many of these poor fellows in the Barbary States, 
and also the abolition of slavery, the Dey of Algiers 
remained openly defiant. 

With six British sail-of-the-line and a Dutch squad- 
ron of five frigates and smaller vessels, Exmouth 
arrived off Algiers on August 27, 1816, and the bom- 
bardment of the protecting mole began. The enemy 
batteries and guns replied with fervour. Nearly 900 
casualties were sustained by the allies, but the Admiral 
did his work thoroughly. A portion of the mole was 
levelled, much of the Algerine shipping was set ablaze, 
and the defenders lost several thousand men as well 
as many vessels of their flotilla. Some 50,000 rounds 

The Coming of Steam and Iron 

were fired by the attacking ships before Exmouth 
withdrew for the night. The Dey was evidently 
satisfied with his peppering, for he conceded all 

Although Greece openly rebelled against Turkish 
tyranny in 1821, it was not until six years later that 
Britain, France, and Russia announced their intention 
to enforce a solution of the problem. The idea of the 
allies was that while Greece should govern herself, 
she should also be under Turkish suzerainty. To 
ensure the cessation of hostilities Codrington, sup- 
ported by a French and a Russian squadron, was 
sent to Navarino Bay, where the Turco-Egyptian 
fleet was lying. It was thought that this display of 
force would overawe Ibrahim Pasha, but when fire 
was opened by one of the Turco - Egyptian vessels 
the action speedily became general. The result was 
summed up in a single brief sentence by Codrington : 
" Out of a fleet composed of 81 men-of-war, only one 
frigate and 15 smaller vessels are in a state ever to 
again put to sea." In the subsequent King's Speech 
at the opening of Parliament the battle was referred 
to as an " untoward event," and Codrington was 
recalled. Right or wrong, the action was successful, 
for Greece secured her independence. 

The Navy, like the Church, is inherently conserva- 
tive. It fought the coming of steam with bitter and 
determined opposition. Melville, who was First Lord 
in 1804-5, although a reformer in many ways, regarded 
it as the duty of the Admiralty to " discourage to the 
utmost of their ability the employment of steam- 
vessels, as they considered the introduction of steam 
was calculated to strike a fatal blow to the naval 
supremacy of the Empire." In the opposite camp 


The Story of the British Navy 

was Nelson's Hardy, who in 1839 declared, " You 
will see great changes in naval architecture. Some 
people laugh at science, but science will alter the 
whole character of the Navy ; depend upon it, steam 
and gunnery are in their infancy." It took many 
years for the evolution to be accomplished. Only at 
the beginning of the twentieth century was the last 
of the sailing-brigs used for training towed to its last 
home. Even so late as 1860 a royal commission re- 
commended fortifications " as a cheap substitute for 
the requisite minimum of naval strength to ensure 

In 1786 John Fitch built a steamer worked by 
paddles which navigated the Delaware River. Two 
years later Miller and Symington carried out experi- 
ments with a steamer in Scotland. In 1800 Henry 
Bell built a small steamer on the Clyde, and in 1811 
his famous Comet was running. Twelve months before 
Waterloo steamers were churning the waters of the 
same river, and in 1816 they were also running on 
the Thames and the Mersey. The Monkey, a paddle- 
tug of some 212 tons and 80 horse-power, was actually 
the first steam-vessel in the service. It was built 
about 1821 and purchased in 1823. A little later the 
Lightning was added to the Navy List. 

When in 1839 Britain supported the Sultan of 
Turkey in his quarrel with Mehemet Ali, Viceroy of 
Egypt, Vice-Admiral Sir Robert Stopford had at his 
command twelve sail-of-the-line, six frigates, nine 
smaller vessels, and half a dozen steamers. The cam- 
paign is chiefly notable for the first appearance of the 
last-mentioned in actual warfare, but it is also inter- 
esting by reason of the fact that Commodore Charles 
Napier, second in command, led the land-forces when 

The Coming of Steam and Iron 

the colonel was laid aside by illness. Sidon fell after 
a vigorous attack by land and sea, Beyrout was 
captured, and Acre shared a similar fate. 

This war was not over when trouble broke out with 
China over a long list of grievances, which included 
smuggling and the non-payment of debts. The Volage 
and the Hyacinth fought and defeated the Chinese 
fleet, calling forth an imperial edict that henceforth 
trade with England was stopped for ever. The 
blockade of the Canton River by Commodore Sir 
George Bremer was followed by military movements 
against Chusan and an attack on the Canton forts. 
The bad faith of the Chinese Government led to 
further trouble in 1841, when Rear- Admiral Sir 
William Parker took a number of vessels up the 
Yangtze-kiang to Nankin. This had the desired effect 
of making the Emperor sue for peace. Canton, Amoy, 
Ningpo, Shanghai, and Foochow were recognized as 
trading or ' treaty ' ports, and Hong-Kong was ceded 
to Britain. 

Paddle-steamers proved their usefulness in the 
battle of Obligado, November 20, 1845, during the 
strife between Brazil and Buenos Ayres for the 
possession of Paraguay and Uruguay. Britain and 
France, having commercial interests in South America, 
sent squadrons which navigated the river Parana, the 
steamers enfilading the forts and preparing the way 
for the heavier ships after a boom of empty vessels 
had been disposed of. Landing-parties then proceeded 
to storm and destroy the defences. The steamers led 
the van in the subsequent attack on San Lorenzo with 
complete success. 

Part of Burma was already British, having passed 
into our possession at the close of the Burmese War 


The Story of the British Navy 

in 1826. A little over a quarter of a century later, 
as the consequence of a series of insults and crimes, 
hostilities again broke out. A squadron under Commo- 
dore Lambert appeared off Rangoon, and all Burmese 
ports were blockaded. On January 9, 1852, the Fox (40), 
towed by a steamer, was fired upon, with the result 
that the whole of the squadron took up the challenge 
with disastrous effects on the enemy's works and war- 
galleys. Several weeks later troops were embarked on 
steamers and other vessels, and Admiral Austen with 
nineteen men-of-war, frigates, steamers, and gunboats, 
together with seven small steamers of the Bengal 
Marine, anchored off the capital. Sailing up the Ran- 
goon River, the fleet exacted heavy retribution on Easter 
Sunday ; the stockades were stormed, and several maga- 
zines blown up. The dose was repeated on the following 
morning, the fortified pagoda being the main object 
of attack. The bombardment was continued through- 
out the night, and on the 14th, assisted by the heavy 
howitzers of the naval brigade, the temple-fortress 
was stormed and captured. Lambert had already 
assisted in the taking of Bassein, some 150 miles west 
of Rangoon. This officer succeeded Austen on the 
Admiral's death. It was thanks mainly to his energy 
that the steamers were able to do excellent work on 
the inland waterways. 

The first screw-warship in the British Navy was 
the Rattler, built of wood and launched in 1841. The 
pioneer iron steamship for the service was the Trident, 
of 1,850 tons and 300 horse-power, built in 1843. The 
first British sea-going ironclad, the Warrior, was 
launched in December 1860 and completed in 1861. 
It was not an invention of the Navy, but a reply to 
the French La Gloire, for England was going through 

The Coming of Steam and Iron 

one of her periodic phases of naval panic. A con- 
temporary describes the French vessel as "a two- 
decked wooden ship, with her upper deck removed 
and her masts greatly reduced, the weight thus got 
rid of permitting a casing of 4 1 -inch armour-plating 
fore and aft, the entire vessel being thus protected, 
and carrying thirty-four heavy rifled guns." 

In masts and rigging the Warrior exactly resembled 
the old wooden frigates. She was armoured in the 
middle main-deck battery only, with an armoured 
bulkhead at each end, her bow and stern being un- 
protected. The armour was of the uniform thickness 
of 4| inches, backed by 18 inches of teak and a skin- 
plating of | inch. Her most powerful guns, twenty- 
six of which were carried in the central battery, 
thirteen on each side, were the old smooth-bore 
95-cwt. 68-pdrs., no heavier than the biggest used at 
Trafalgar. The Warrior's displacement was about 
9,210 tons, her coal capacity 800 tons, and the screw 
was made to lift so as not to impede her sailing 
qualities when steam was not required. Her actual 
speed was 12 knots. The price of this forefather of 
the battle-cruiser Hood was a mere 385,188, against 
the 6,025,000 spent on the latter, which costs approx- 
imately 617,410 per annum to keep in full commission 
in home waters. Capital ships now on the stocks 
are likely to incur an expenditure of 9,000,000 each. 

The transition from wood to iron was by no means 
speedy. The flagship of Vice-Admiral Sir Charles 
Napier, commander-in-chief in the Baltic in the war 
with Russia in 1854, was the Duke of Wellington (130), 
a wooden three-decker fitted with sails and a screw. 
By an eleventh-hour decision the Admiralty deter- 
mined to install engines, and she was cut in two and 


The Story of the British Navy 

made 20 feet longer for the purpose. Originally 
intended to be called the Windsor Castle, the vessel 
was launched on the day the victor of Waterloo died, 
and by Queen Victoria's request was christened the 
Duke of Wellington. Her displacement was 6,071 
tons, and it is on record that she was built out of an 
oak-forest covering seventy-six acres, each tree being 
not less than 200 years old. It was not until the 
centenary year of Trafalgar that this stately ship, 
which led the line in the Spithead Review of 1853, 
passed into the hands of the breakers. 

Of the eighteen battleships at Napier's disposal a 
dozen were steam, as were the twenty-three frigates, 
corvettes, and sloops. Sailing from England in March, 
they were joined in June by a French squadron under 
Vice-Admiral Deschesnes, who had with him eight 
sailing-battleships and a number of frigates. The 
Russians had less than a dozen steamers and no 

Leaving a considerable portion of his force on guard 
should the Russian fleet come out, Napier landed 9,000 
troops after a preliminary bombardment of Bomar- 
sund, in the Aland Islands. Exposed to fire from land 
and sea, the four forts speedily surrendered. It was 
not the French but the British who kept guard until 
the ice blockaded the enemy. In the succeeding 
August Sveaborg was attacked by Admiral Dundas, 
mainly with mortar-ships and gunboats. 

In the Crimea the sea-communications of the allies 
were not threatened. In the Black Sea, at the 
beginning of 1854, the British fleet consisted of ten 
battleships, of which eight were sail, and one sail 
and six paddle-frigates, while the French had eight 
battleships, only one of which was not propelled solely 

The Coming of Steam and Iron 

by wind, and four small paddle - steamers. These 
forces were considerably augmented later, mostly by 
steam-driven ships. Russia had but fourteen sail-of- 
the-line, a number of frigates and brigs, and a dozen 
steamers at her disposal. In the long-protracted 
siege of Sebastopol the senior service played a worthy 
part. A naval brigade and marines did excellent 
work on land, and their colleagues on the ships ably 
supported them. Many of the Russian ships were 
scuttled across the harbour. In the bombardment 
of October 17, 1854, the steamers proved their 
superiority by towing the sailers in and out of action. 
The attack was far less successful than had been 
hoped. The Albion, the London, and the Arethusa 
had to be hauled out of action owing to damages 
sustained, the Agamemnon struck a shoal, and the 
Rodney was badly damaged. All, with the exception 
of the Agamemnon, which was the first battleship 
designed for a screw, were sailing - ships. The final 
bombardment took place on September 5, 6, and 7, 
1855, and on the 8th Sebastopol fell. In the attack 
on Fort Kimburn, guarding the Dnieper, in the 
following October, four French floating batteries of 
1,400 tons, driven by screws and mounting eighteen 
50-pdrs. protected with 4 -inch iron plating, were tried 
with great success. These somewhat unseaworthy 
vessels were the direct progenitors of La Gloire, about 
which mention has already been made. 

The unchallenged supremacy of the allies at sea 
made the invasion of the Crimea and the siege of 
Sebastopol possible, and the naval operations in the 
Baltic not only hemmed in the Russian fleet there, 
but forced the Czar to keep a numerous army in the 
north when it was urgently needed in the south. 


The Story of the British Navy 

The seizure of a ship alleged to be flying the British 
flag again brought war in China in 1856, and Admiral 
Sir Edward Seymour, after capturing the Canton 
forts, threw shells into the city. France now joined 
Britain, and the allied fleets destroyed the Taku forts 
guarding the entrance to the Peiho River. Peace 
was patched up, but the behaviour of the Chinese 
Government speedily proved that they regarded it as 
merely a measure to gain time. The Taku forts were 
rebuilt, and when attacked in 1859 involved the defeat 
of the force and the loss of three gunboats. In the 
autumn of the following year the allies were more 
successful Pekin was attacked, and hostilities ceased. 

War broke out with Japan in 1863, Admiral Kuper's 
first operation being the destruction of three steamers 
forming the nucleus of the Prince of Satsuma's navy. 
He then proceeded to shell the shore batteries of 
Kagoshima. Scarcely had the attack begun than a 
typhoon set in. For six hours the men plied their 
guns, despite the weather, and indulged in much 
erratic shooting. The city, which boasted a popula- 
tion of some 180,000, was almost burned to the 

The Lord of Satsuma had learned his lesson. In 
the following year another feudal prince, Le of Nagato, 
fired on warships and merchantmen passing through 
the Strait of Shimonoseki. An international squadron 
of British, French, Dutch, and United States vessels 
under Kuper now Sir Augustus attacked the bat- 
teries within range of the naval guns, and landed some 
1,800 men to assault the others. Complete success 
attended the operation, and peace was purchased at a 
price of 3,000,000 dollars. 

It was not very long before the thickness of the 

The Coming of Steam and Iron 

armour carried by the Warrior's successors was in- 
creased to 5 1 inches, and placed both fore and aft in 
addition to amidships. In the Hercules of 1868 the 
armour was 9 inches at the water-line, an inch less 
on the most important parts of the broadside, and 
6 inches on the remainder. What was called the 
' ram-bow ' also made its appearance. This vessel 
mounted eight 18 -ton guns in the central battery ; 
these threw projectiles weighing 400 lb., and were 
the most powerful ever mounted on the broadside up 
to that time. In the protected batteries at the bow 
and stern two 12-ton guns were placed, and there were 
four unprotected 6f-ton guns on the upper deck. 

In the earlier classes of ironclad it was found that 
their length made them somewhat unhandy. It was 
therefore determined to build vessels of more moderate 
proportions. The first of these was the Seller ophon, 
which was 80 feet shorter than the Warrior, protected 
throughout, and having a central and a bow battery 
on the main deck. 

The historic fight between the Merrimac and the 
Monitor in the American Civil War of 1860 hastened 
another step in evolution. The former was a Federal 
wooden steam-frigate of 60 guns which had been cut 
down to within two feet of the water-line, a super- 
structure of armour-plating pierced at intervals for 
the guns erected on it, and an iron ram provided. 
She carried a 7-inch gun at bow and stern, and six 
9-inch and two 6-inch guns in the broadside. The 
Monitor was protected by iron 4| inches thick and 
mounted a revolving turret in which were two 11 -inch 
smooth-bore guns. " The Monitor," says an eye- 
witness, " went round the Merrimac repeatedly, probing 
her sides, seeking for weak points, and reserving 


The Story of the British Navy 

her fire with coolness, until she had the right spot 
and the right range, and made her experiments ac- 
cordingly. In this way the Merrimac received three 
shots. . . . Neither of these three shots rebounded at 
all, but appeared to cut their way clear through iron 
and wood into the ship." After a five hours' action 
the Merrimac turned tail. Although Erricsson claimed 
to be the inventor of the Monitor, the idea apparently 
originated with Captain Cowper Coles, of the British 
Navy. He had proposed it to the Admiralty in 1855, 
and a description of the ship had appeared in 1860 in 
an English magazine circulating largely in America. 

It was decided to convert the Royal Sovereign, a 
recently built three-decker of 4,000 tons displacement 
and 800 horse-power. At Portsmouth she was cut 
down to her lower deck, and an additional sum of 
150,431 spent on her. Coles' system of turrets was 
adopted, her sides being covered with 5| inches of 
rolled iron. Her armament consisted of five 250-pdrs. 
in four centre-line turrets, and her speed was about 
11 knots. 

The experience gained in the behaviour of the 
Royal Sovereign was utilized in the iron-built turret- 
ship Monarch, the thickness of the armour varying 
from 6 inches to 7 inches. Her length was 330 feet, 
her breadth 57 feet 6 inches, and her freeboard 14 
feet, as against the Royal Sovereign's 6 feet. In her 
sister ship, the Captain, the freeboard was again 
reduced to 6 feet. She capsized in a gale in the Bay 
of Biscay in September 1870, the general consensus 
of opinion being that in order to keep up with the 
Monarch she had crowded on too much sail. " The 
desire of our Admiralty," wrote Admiral Sherard 
Osborn, " to make all their fighting-ships cruise under 

The Coming of Steam and Iron 

canvas, as well as steam, induced poor Captain Coles 
to go a step further, and to make a ship with a low 
freeboard a sailing-ship." The inventor went down 
with the vessel, together with a son of the First Lord 
and 600 officers and men. In her turrets the Captain 
carried 25-ton guns throwing 600-lb. projectiles. 

In the turret-ships Thunderer and Devastation, de- 
signed in 1869, sails were discarded, 10-, 12-, and 14-inch 
armour was used, and guns of 35 and 38 tons appeared. 
In that year their designer, Mr E. J. Reed, stated that 
" the Admiralty acted wisely in suspending the con- 
struction of wooden line-of-battle ships and frigates 
when the expediency of building ironclads became 
apparent ; but the action at Lissa 1 shows that wooden 
ships are far from ineffective in engagements where 
ironclads are present, and there can be little doubt 
that the value of such ships as a reserve would be 
very great, since the first ironclad action would greatly 
cripple the armoured ships of the enemy, and give 
scope for the operations of the wooden fleet." 

These ships were both of 9,330 tons displacement. 
The Thunderer was armed with two 38-ton (12 '5-inch) 
guns and two 35-ton (12-inch) guns in two turrets, 
whereas all four guns of the Devastation were of 35 
tons. They were provided with a ' protective ' deck 
of armour to shield the engines and magazines, and 
a curved superstructure between the two turrets on 
which was a hurricane-deck where the conning-tower 
was situated. These ships had a single mast for look- 
out and signalling purposes. 

Progress and retrogression are noticeable in the 
Inflexible, of 11,880 tons, the glory of the Navy in 
1881. Her two turrets both carried two muzzle-loading 

1 Fought between Austria and Italy in 1866. 


The Story of the British Navy 

80-ton guns firing a shot weighing 1,700 Ib. Round 
the citadel amidships the wrought-iron protection was 
no less than two feet thick, but both ends were left 
unprotected, as in the Warrior, and she carried sails. 
To counterbalance her deficiency in armour at bow 
and stern the ship was divided into a great number of 
so-called ' watertight ' compartments. All four guns 
could be fired ahead or astern. To this armament 
eight 4-inch breech-loaders were added subsequently. 
One who sailed in her asserts that when her canvas 
was spread in a strong breeze she was " completely 
unmanageable." At the bombardment of Alexandria, 
when she was under the command of Captain J. A. 
Fisher, her guns played havoc with the Egyptian 
forts. While one turret was bombarding Fort Mex, 
the other was shelling the Ras-el-Tin batteries to 
such excellent effect that Admiral Seymour signalled 
" Well done, Inflexible ! " The Condor, although justly 
famous, was not the only ship that deserved well of 
the nation and of the Navy that day. Incidentally 
the turret-ship sustained more damage than any other 
unit of the fleet. She was designed by Sir Nathaniel 
Barnaby, K.C.B., Director of Naval Construction. 

During the eighties the * Admiral ' class came into 
being and marked another departure. The guns which 
they mounted at bow and stern were in barbettes 
and not in turrets, and there was a secondary arma- 
ment of six or ten 6-inch breech-loading and smaller 
guns amidships. The guns revolved on a turn-table, 
the gunners being afforded protection by an armoured 
hood. Of the half-dozen ' Admirals ' built between 
1882 and 1886, one had two 12-inch guns in each 
barbette, four had 13'5-inch guns, and the Beribow 
had a single 16'5-inch 110-ton gun mounted at each 

The Coming of Steam and Iron 

end. In 1887 the Victoria was launched at Newcastle- 
on-Tyne from Armstrong's yard, with a displacement 
of 10,470 tons and a speed of 16 knots. Barbettes 
had gone out of fashion ; two 110-ton guns projected 
from a single turret forward and one 29-ton gun 
from a turret aft. The auxiliary armament abaft 
the turret and above the upper deck consisted of 
twelve 6-inch, twelve 6-pdr. rapid-fire, twelve 3-pdr. 
rapid-fire, and eight Nordenfeldt guns. There were 
also eight torpedo-tubes. This fine ship was rammed 
by the Camperdown off the coast of Tripoli in June 
1893, and sank in about ten minutes. The commander 
of the Victoria was John Jellicoe, later commander- 
in-chief of the Grand Fleet from 1914 to 1916. 

The remaining naval actions of the nineteenth 
century, so far as Britain was concerned, were of no 
great significance. In the spring of 1877 the Peru- 
vian revolutionist Pierola, having seized a man-of-war 
and coaled at the expense of an English merchant 
vessel, was promptly searched for by Admiral de 
Horsey. On discovery an inconclusive fight ensued, 
thanks mainly to the armour protection of the 
Huascar, for her gunnery was atrocious, and she 
made her escape, though only to fall to a Peruvian 

Of land-campaigns in which sailors have played a 
part as well as soldiers there have been a goodly few. 
In the sixties a naval brigade was engaged in subduing 
the native Maori of New Zealand, and seamen under 
Captain Fellows bore a good deal of the heat and 
burden of the day in the long agony of the Abyssinian 
expedition of 1868 against King Theodore, which 
ended in the capture of Magdala. Nearly 300 officers 
and men also took part in Wolseley's advance on 


The Story of the British Navy 

Coomassie in the Ashanti affair of 1873-4, the com- 
mander-in-chief testifying to the " dashing courage " 
of the seamen and marines. A smaller naval con- 
tingent likewise assisted in the Zulu War of 1878-9. 
Following the disaster at Isandula, further military 
and naval reinforcements were sent out, and Cetywayo 
was defeated. 

A flotilla of steamers capable of navigating the 
Irawadi was called into active service in the short 
Burmese War of 1885, when some 200 miles of difficult 
waterway was skilfully navigated. In the following 
year a naval patrol of the same river successfully put 
down a native rebellion. 

Splendid work was done by another naval brigade 
in 1890 in punishing the Sultan of Vitu, a dusky 
magnate of East Africa who had murdered a number 
of Europeans. With Vice-Admiral Sir E. R. Fremantle 
in command, the expedition advanced through ex- 
tremely difficult country and exacted heavy retribu- 
tion by destroying the Sultan's capital and blowing 
up his palace. Admiral Sir Harry Rawson undertook 
a similar operation, for an almost identical crime, 
against the bloodthirsty King of Benin in 1897. 
Though on a larger scale and attended by even 
greater difficulties, the affair was triumphantly settled 
in a little over a month. 

In the war against the Mahdi in the Sudan in 1884-5 
a naval brigade fought in the battles of El Teb and 
Tamaai. It was during the former battle that Lord 
Charles Beresford (later Lord Beresford) escaped death 
only because he was knocked down by the enemy and 
fell under the Gardner gun which he and another 
man were endeavouring to bring into action. Wilson, 
Stuart- Wortley, and Beresford, it will be remembered, 

The Coming of Steam and Iron 

set out with four steamers on a last desperate dash 
to rescue Gordon. Men-of-war in the harbour at 
Suakin gave valuable assistance in preventing Osman 
Digna from carrying his siege of the town to a suc- 
cessful issue. On December 20, 1888, Kitchener 
fought the battle of Gemaizeh. In order to deceive 
the enemy a naval demonstration was made a few 
miles from Suakin, at a place called Mersa Kuwai, 
which was visible from Osman Digna' s headquarters 
at Handub. As Osman Digna sent no reinforcements, 
it must be presumed that this feint had the desired 
effect of making him uncertain as to where Sir Francis 
Grenfell, the Sirdar, would strike his main blow. At 
the same time a heavy artillery bombardment of the 
dervish position, both from the forts and H.M.S. 
Racer, was kept up. Over 500 dervishes a little less 
than a third of those who took part were slain, 
including four ameers. 

During the Dongola campaign stern-wheel steamers, 
some of which were converted into miniature gun- 
boats by being armed, acted as tugs for smaller vessels 
carrying troops and stores to Wady Haifa, the point 
of concentration. An engagement at Hafir was prac- 
tically a contest between the artillery on either side 
and the little flotilla of gunboats, the Tamaai, the 
Abu Klea, and the Metammeh, under Commander the 
Hon. S. C. J. Colville, R.N. The enemy evacuated 
the position, taking their guns with them, but their 
steamboat formerly one of Gordon's little fleet 
was sunk. 

In the light of more recent history it is interest- 
ing to note that the commander of the Abu Klea 
was Lieutenant David Beatty. When Colville was 
wounded this young officer took over the command 


The Story of the British Navy 

of the flotilla and played his part with marked 
ability and bravery. When Kitchener had got the 
upper hand the vessels steamed toward Dongola, the 
fight continuing intermittently until dawn on the 
following morning, when the enemy decamped and 
Kitchener's army crossed the river. The forts and 
batteries of Dongola were destroyed by the gunboats. 
When the last great lump of mud crumbled and dis- 
appeared in a cloud of dust it was a sign that the 
Nile valley had been restored to the rule of the 

At the battle of the Atbara Beatty was in command 
of the rocket-battery which set many of the thatched 
huts ablaze in the enemy's zariba. A few months later 
the flotilla, after silencing the forts of Halfiyeh, ran 
the gauntlet of those of Khartoum and Omdurman. 
On September 2, 1898, thirteen years after his death, 
Gordon was avenged. The gunboats bombarded the 
Khalifa's capital, and throughout the day were in 
constant service, in particular covering the Camel 
Corps at a very critical period. 

Less than a week after his triumphal entry into 
Omdurman Kitchener was informed that Fashoda, 
on the White Nile, had been occupied by a force of 
white men and black soldiers. The Sirdar set out to 
investigate, taking with him five steamers, soldiers, 
and guns. He found M. Marchand and 128 men, the 
commander claiming the territory as French. Thanks 
to Lord Salisbury's firmness the claim was not 
upheld, though for a time it looked as though war 
would break out between Britain and the Republic. 

Returning to the material evolution of the Navy, 
progress had been made in other types of vessel 
besides the battleship. In the Diamond Jubilee 

The Coming of Steam and Iron 

Naval Review of 1897 no ship received more notice 
than the Powerful, a steel-built first-class cruiser of 
14,200 tons with the speed of an Atlantic liner. Her 
sister ship the Terrible was not commissioned until 
nearly a year later. The Powerful was then on the 
China station hourly expecting that Britain would be 
involved in the Russo-Japanese War. That crisis 
past, she went to Manila to watch the nation's 
interests during the Spanish-American War, and was 
preparing to leave Hong-Kong when the Fashoda 
affair seemed likely to involve the Empire with 
France. In 1899 she proceeded to the Cape and 
landed troops from Mauritius to take part in the 
South African War. At Simon's Bay she sent a 
Naval Brigade on shore. Captain Percy Scott, of the 
Terrible, hastily designed a mounting for 4*7 guns, 
which with others were procured for the defence of 
Durban, and another Naval Brigade was landed. 
From Durban the cruiser sailed for China, where the 
Boxer Rebellion was in full swing, and again the 
Naval Brigade did magnificent work. 

Another factor in warfare was the torpedo. The 
late Mr Robert Whitehead's invention, an improve- 
ment on that of Commander Lupuis, of the Austrian 
Navy, who had sold his patent to the former, was 
tested by the British Admiralty at Sheerness in 1871. 
Although it was extremely crude when compared with 
its successor of to-day, the sum of 15,000 was paid 
for the English rights. It was first put to a practical 
demonstration in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877, when 
Lieutenant Rozhdestvensky, who afterward suffered 
defeat at the hands of the Japanese in 1905, sank a 
Turkish warship by its means. The first torpedo- 
boat built for the British Navy was the Lightning, 


The Story of the British Navy 

a little ship of 27 tons with a speed of 18 knots 
launched in 1877. The torpedo-boat destroyers of 
to-day have a displacement of over 1,800 tons, are 
propelled by turbine engines, use oil fuel, and can 
attain a speed of over forty miles an hour. 

In 1889 Lord Salisbury emphasized the enormous 
importance of the British Navy by insisting that it 
should be equal to that of the two strongest foreign 
Powers, but it was not until 1895-98 that it became 
in any real sense worthy of the term * modern.' 

Following the Russo-Japanese War, we took to 
heart the maxim of our Eastern allies, " Let the victor 
look to the laces of his helmet." During Sir John 
Fisher's administration as First Sea Lord (1904-10), 
the British Navy underwent a complete transform- 
ation. Believing that concentration was the keynote 
of successful warfare, he boldly reduced the Mediter- 
ranean Fleet in order to strengthen that in the North 
Sea, which he held to be the main strategic theatre. 
Germany, and not France, was the menace. He 
reformed Osborne, accentuating the importance of the 
engineering branch of the sea-profession, developed 
the submarine, fathered the sea-plane, adopted the 
water- tube boiler, the turbine, and oil fuel, and intro- 
duced the Dreadnought type of battleship and the 
battle-cruiser. Fisher cut down expenses without in 
any way reducing the efficiency of the fleets, turned 
out old-fashioned ships, and reorganized the whole 

The Dreadnought was laid down at Portsmouth in 
October 1905 the month and year of the centenary 
,'of Trafalgar and commissioned late in 1906. A 
great deal of secrecy was wisely observed regarding 
the all-big-gun vessel, with the result that Germany 

The Coming of Steam and Iron 

was puzzled, as it was intended she should be, for it 
virtually made other types of battleships obsolete. 
Speed, armament, and armour-protection were com- 
bined in such a way as to introduce a new fashion. 
Her ten 12-inch guns were so arranged that eight 
could be used for firing a broadside, an enormous 
advance on the armament of the biggest battleship 
of other countries, none of which could bring to bear 
more than four big guns on a target. Since then many 
developments have taken place, the Dreadnoughts of 
the Queen Elizabeth class mounting eight 15-inch guns 
in four turrets, with a secondary armament of 6-inch 
guns, and displacing 27,500 tons of water. There has 
also been a marked increase in speed. The Hood, 
which was first commissioned in 1920, has a displace- 
ment of 41,200 tons, a speed of 31 knots, mounts 
eight 15-inch, twelve 5'5-inch, and four anti-aircraft 
guns, and has six torpedo-tubes. She is heavily 
armoured, the main belt being twelve inches thick, 
and fitted with a bulge intended to preclude a torpedo 
from penetrating to the interior of the ship. The 
latter protection is the invention of Sir E. H. W. 
Tennyson-D'Eyncourt, her designer. The cost of the 
Hood was 6,025,000. 

The battle-cruiser was conceived as a big-gun ship 
with the speed of a fast cruiser so as to be capable of 
arriving on the scene of action with the least possible 
delay. The pioneers of the Invincible class carried 
eight 12-inch guns which could be fired as a broadside 
on either beam. The Tiger, completed in October 
1914, was provided with 13-5-inch guns firing a shell 
of 1,400 lb., and a secondary armament of twelve 
6-inch guns instead of sixteen 4-inch, as in the Queen 


The Story of the British Navy 

Great Britain's initial venture in submarines, built 
at Barrow-in-Furness in 1901, was of 120 tons dis- 
placement when submerged, with a speed of 5 knots 
below the surface. So long before as 1888 France 
had launched the Gymnote, the first modern under- 
water craft to be commissioned. Nordenfeldt, of gun 
fame, had previously achieved a certain amount of suc- 
cess with steam-driven submarines, but they had many 
disadvantages as compared with those of Mr John P. 
Holland, an American. Germany's pioneer U-boat was 
built in 1890. 

The deadliness of the mine was conclusively proved 
during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, when the 
Japanese battleships Hatsuse and Yashima both suc- 
cumbed to Russian mines in the Yellow Sea. Their 
loss was not at first recognized as due to these deadly 
canisters of floating death, but the cause of their 
sinking was afterward ascertained, and the Admiral- 
ties of the world duly noted it. The Russian flagship 
Petropavlovsk suffered a like fate off Port Arthur in the 
same campaign, during the course of which fourteen 
Russian and ten Japanese vessels were lost by mines. 

What fire-ships were to the old regime, torpedoes and 
mines are to the new Navy. 



The Battle of Heligoland Bight 

1 have learnt not to be surprised at anything. 


NOTWITHSTANDING Fisher's reforms, Bri- 
tain's ' sure shield ' was in anything but a 
state of real preparedness when war broke 
out in August 1914, despite official assurance to the 
contrary and the encomiums of Mr Winston Churchill, 
First Lord of the Admiralty. Instead of over- 
whelming superiority, our margin was dangerously 
fine. To all intents and purposes the main base at 
Scapa Flow was defenceless. There was not a single 
land-battery, and the whole fleet in home waters had 
only seventy-six destroyers twenty fewer than the 
Germans and of these thirty - six were based on 

There were no mines worthy the name and very 
few mine-sweepers, no director-firing gear for the guns 
of the secondary armament of the battleships, no 
naval base on the east coast equipped with protection 
against attack by submarine ; the range-finders and 
searchlights were inferior to those of the enemy ; 
instead of bursting inside a ship the British shells 
burst outside, and many of the battle-cruisers were 
under-armoured. When the Grand Fleet was denuded 
of the Invincible and the Inflexible for service else- 
where, Sir John Jellicoe was placed in what he calls 


The Story of the British Navy 

" a very questionable position " as regards battle- 
cruisers. After the Audacious had been mined the 
effective margin of difference between the number of 
battleships and battle-cruisers at the disposal of the 
commander-in-chief and of the principal enemy was 
exceedingly narrow. 

At the outbreak of war the ships based on home 
waters were divided into three main fleets, each dis- 
tinct but co-operating in the general scheme. The 
First Fleet, in addition to Jellicoe's flagship the Iron 
Duke, was made up of four battle squadrons, totalling 
nineteen Dreadnoughts and super-Dreadnoughts, eight 
pre-Dreadnoughts, four battle-cruisers, four armoured 
cruisers, four cruisers of the Devonshire class and four 
others, a light - cruiser squadron of four ships, half 
a dozen gunboats converted into mine-sweepers, two 
flotilla cruisers, and destroyers. The Second Fleet 
consisted of two battle squadrons, numbering sixteen 
pre-Dreadnoughts, the Fifth and Sixth Cruiser Squad- 
rons of seven ships, seven mine-layers, two patrol 
flotillas of two flotilla-cruisers and thirty-five de- 
stroyers. The oldest battleships constituted the two 
battle squadrons of the Third Fleet, and in addition 
there were five cruiser squadrons of obsolescent vessels. 
To these must be added numerous submarines and 
two repair-ships. Two destroyer-leaders, building for 
Chile, were purchased, three monitors were bought 
from the Brazilian Government, and two Dreadnoughts 
for Turkey were taken over. Many private yachts 
and ships of the merchant-service were commandeered 
for patrol and transport work. 

The effective German High Sea Fleet consisted 
of thirteen Dreadnoughts in commission and three 
building, three battle-cruisers, sixteen older battle- 

The Battle of Heligoland Bight 

ships, two armoured cruisers, fifteen light cruisers, 
and destroyers, torpedo-boats, and submarines. In 
the Far East were two armoured cruisers, three light 
cruisers, three old cruisers, four small vessels, and two 
destroyers. Three obsolete cruisers were in the vicinity 
of Australia, a light cruiser and three old cruisers in 
African waters, and a fast cruiser, the Karlsruhe, 
somewhere near the West Indies. 

In addition to safeguarding her dominions and 
convoying troops from her colonies, Great Britain 
undertook to guard the North Sea and the English 
Channel. She shared with France the control of the 
Mediterranean, where Austria and Germany had three 
Dreadnought battleships, while France had eight. Of 
battle-cruisers there the enemy had one and Britain 
three, and France had eleven pre-Dreadnought battle- 
ships against six of the Central Powers. The latter 
had also three armoured cruisers, Great Britain four, 
and France six. There were also light cruisers, sub- 
marines, and destroyers. 

While the Grand Fleet held the North Sea, with its 
area of 200,000 square miles, the High Sea Fleet had 
the advantage of being able to operate in either the 
North Sea or the Baltic by means of the Kiel Canal, 
both exits being protected by powerful fortifications. 
The Russian fleet in the Baltic comprised four Dread- 
noughts, ten armoured and protected cruisers, two 
light cruisers, some eighty destroyers, mostly of anti- 
quated types, and twenty-four small submarines. 

The war on the waters did not start with a battle 
of the giants, as many people anticipated. The enemy 
played a waiting game, hoping to wear down the 
British Navy by the promiscuous sowing of mines and 
the development of the submarine. On August 5th, 


The Story of the British Navy 

after a chase of about thirty miles by the light cruiser 
Amphion and destroyers, the Konigin Luise, a pas- 
senger steamer hastily converted into a mine-layer, 
was sunk in the North Sea. A few hours later the 
Amphion struck one of the explosive canisters flung 
overboard by her victim and joined her in the realm 
of the underseas. Appropriately enough, Captain 
C. H. Fox, the commander of the flotilla, avenged the 
loss of his ship on the 17th of the following October, 
when he sank four German destroyers in a brilliant 
action which only cost five casualties. As a result 
of the murderous menace of the mine in the trade- 
routes, the North Sea was proclaimed a military area 
on November 3rd. 

The crossing of the Expeditionary Force was begun 
on August 15th and completed on the 17th. On " the 
16th the day on which the largest amount of trans- 
port was passing the Heligoland Bight was com- 
pletely blockaded," we are told by Sir Julian Corbett, 
the writer of the official history. " To the north was 
disposed the Grand Fleet in full force, with Admiral 
de Chair and his four cruisers watching between it 
and the Skagerrak, while its extreme right was con- 
nected up with Terschelling by the Southern Force, 
consisting of the four Bacchantes, three light cruisers, 
and thirty-six destroyers, with four submarines in 
pairs, watching the mouth of the Jade and Ems. 
During these three days the transports made 137 
passages the tonnage passing being well over half a 
million but still there was not a sign of the enemy 
moving and on August 17th both forces returned to 
their normal stations, Loch Ewe being used by the 
Dreadnought squadron for the first time." 

The first engagement of consequence took place 

i lie .Dame <Ji 

on August 28th, when a reconnaissance in force re- 
sulted in the battle of Heligoland Bight. The ships 
commanded by Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty con- 
sisted of a submarine flotilla, two flotillas of de- 
stroyers, a light-cruiser squadron, the First Battle- 
Cruiser Squadron, and the Seventh Cruiser Squadron, 
a goodly number of vessels. Beatty was at the time 
Britain's youngest admiral, being but forty-three years 
of age. During the Sudan campaign he had served 
under Kitchener and won the D.S.O. He led what was 
practically a forlorn hope when the Naval Brigade was 
attempting the relief of the legations at Pekin, an affair 
in which Jellicoe also had played a gallant part. 

In order to entice the enemy into the open, sub- 
marines were used as decoys to entice the Germans 
into the open. So far as two of them were concerned, 
this was by no means their first visit. Three hours 
after the outbreak of war E6 and E8 had proceeded 
without their parent ships, the Lurcher and Firedrake, 
to carry out a preliminary survey in the dangerous 
waters which wash Heligoland. Aftef the Expedi- 
tionary Force had landed, the craft had " been 
incessantly employed," wrote their commander, Com- 
modore Roger Keyes, " on the enemy's coast in the 
Heligoland Bight and elsewhere, and had obtained 
much valuable information regarding the composition 
and movement of his patrols. They have occupied 
his waters and reconnoitred his anchorages, and, 
while so engaged, have been subjected to skilful and 
well-executed anti-submarine tactics ; hunted for hours 
at a time by torpedo craft and attacked by gunfire 
and torpedoes." 

The submarines and their parent ships began their 
work in preparation for the battle at midnight on 


The Story of the British Navy 

August 26th. Until the light faded on the following 
day, the Lurcher, with Keyes on board, and the 
Firedrake scouted for their companions, the latter 
then taking up their prearranged stations so as to 
co-operate with the destroyer flotillas when they 
appeared. No sooner had the first streaks of dawn 
stolen across the sky on the 28th than the two de- 
stroyers began the preliminary and extremely im- 
portant business of searching for submarines in the 
course that would be taken by the battle-cruisers, 
performing a similar task to that of a pilot engine in 
advance of a royal train. This having been done, the 
submarines came to the surface, and with the parent 
ships boldly approached "the island key to Germany." 
The object of this bait was to induce the enemy " to 
chase them to the westward." 

Commodore Tyrwhitt, on the bridge of the light 
cruiser Arethusa, and the First and Third Destroyer 
Flotillas were now approaching from the north-west 
at top speed, ready for instant action. They were 
followed by the First Light- Cruiser Squadron under 
Commodore Goodenough. Behind them were Beatty's 
giants. To the south, in such a position as would 
enable it to stop any attempt on the part of the 
enemy to escape westward, was the Seventh Cruiser 
Squadron, commanded by Rear-Admiral Christian, 
who already had a fine record of active service in 
West and East Africa to his credit. 

The three submarines gently plying on the surface 
of the placid waters, their conning-towers exposed so 
as to make effective targets for the enemy, with the 
sleek destroyers following in their wake, were duly 
observed by the Germans, possibly by two of them 
in a seaplane. Here was food for cannon ! How well 

JLne battle ol Heligoland tfignt 

" Five British Men-of-War Sunk " would look as a 
headline for the newspapers of the Fatherland ! What 
a sale they would have in Unter den Linden ! These 
thoughts doubtless occurred to the commanders of 
the German destroyers and the two cruisers which 
presently came from their lair to catch such easy prey. 
Apparently taken off their guard, the five patrol-ships 
fled westward, followed by the units of the imperial 

Suddenly out of the mist there emerged the British 
light cruisers Arethusa and Fearless, attended by the 
greyhounds of the First and Third Destroyer Flotillas. 
The Arethusa was the latest of a long line of ships 
bearing an honoured name, the original having been 
a French frigate of 32 guns captured in Audierne Bay 
in 1759. She was a light armoured cruiser of a class 
designed to be ' destroyers of destroyers.' The arma- 
ment consists of a couple of 6-inch and half a dozen 
4-inch quick-firing guns, with two twin torpedo-tubes. 
The displacement is 3,750 tons, oil fuel is used, and 
the turbines develop a speed of 29 to 30 knots. The 
Fearless also is a light cruiser, carrying ten 4-inch and 
four 3-pdr. guns, and was completed in 1913. 

It wanted a few minutes to seven o'clock when the 
first enemy vessel was sighted and chased by them. 
Shortly afterward other German torpedo-boats were 
discovered making for Heligoland, and the course of 
the British ships was altered to cut them off from this 
haven of refuge. For over an hour and a quarter 
the Arethusa received a heavy fire from two large 
cruisers and several destroyers. One of the latter 
then turned her attention to the Fearless, but within 
ten minutes the Areihusa's antagonist was making off 
as best she could with a wrecked fore-bridge. The 


The Story of the British Navy 

British ship was also considerably damaged, and only 
one gun remained in action. She was temporarily 
hors de combat. 

Meanwhile the British destroyers had also been in 
the thick of the fight and had sunk the leading de- 
stroyer of the enemy flotilla and injured several others. 
Our boats had the advantage of more powerful guns 
than the German torpedo-craft, which were armed 
with two 21-pdr. quick-firers, four Maxims, and three 
or four torpedo-tubes, but they also came under the 
fire of the forts and of the cruisers. 

The Liberty went through a terrible ordeal. Part 
of the bridge was torn away by a shell which killed 
Lt.-Commander Nigel K. W. Barttelot and his signal- 
man, shattered the foremast, and smashed the search- 
light. Lieutenant Henry E. Horan thereupon took 
the officer's place, and " brought his ship out of action 
in an extremely able and gallant manner under most 
trying conditions," Chief Petty Officer J. S. Beadle 
remaining at his post for over an hour after he had 
been seriously wounded. Down below, the engineering 
staff went about their difficult business of stopping 
leaks, which were of such an alarming nature that 
most of the work was accomplished when the water 
had risen above the men's waists. 

Three shells struck the Laertes, rendering a dynamo 
useless, wrecking the officers' cabin, and making a 
hole through the midship funnel. For a time she was 
hemmed in by two German vessels, and was finally 
towed out of action by the Fearless. A shell exploded 
in one of the boilers. On the Laurel eleven casualties 
were caused by a single shell, her two funnels were 
pierced, and some of her deck gear was smashed. 
Further damage to the funnels caused the smoke to 

Ine Battle ot Heligoland Bight 

beat down, and enveloped one of the gun-crews at a 
critical moment. Fortunately support from another 
craft came in the nick of time. The commander, 
wounded in both legs, refused to delegate his duty to 
another until six o'clock in the evening. An explosion 
occurred close to the centre gun, near which several 
lyddite shells were lying, but the promptness of a 
stoker petty officer prevented the fire from spreading, 
and he eventually put it out. The explosion also 
shattered the after funnel and played havoc in one of 
the boiler-rooms, yet the men below stuck to their 
posts and did their best to repair the damage when 
the ship was brought out of action. The crews of 
the destroyers proved themselves worthy of the finest 
traditions of the service. 

An engineer of the Laurel tells us what the engage- 
ment was like from the point of view of the heroic 
' black squad ' in the engine-room. " We heard the 
shells crashing against the sides of the ship or shriek- 
ing overhead as they passed harmlessly into the water, 
and we knew that at any moment one might strike us 
in a vital part and send us below for good. It is ten 
times harder on the men whose duty is in the engine- 
room than for those on deck taking part in the fighting, 
for they, at least, have the excitement of the fight, 
and if the ship is struck they have more than a 
sporting chance of escape. We have none." 

One splendid performance stands out conspicuously. 
The Defender, after having put the finishing touch to 
VI 87, lowered a whaler in the hope of being able 
to pick up survivors from the German commodore's 
ship. It had succeeded in hauling a number of them 
from the water when one of the enemy's cruisers 
chased the destroyer. She was no match for the ship 


The Story of the British Navy 

at close range, and was therefore reluctantly com- 
pelled to abandon the boat. Although shells were 
bursting quite close, no damage was sustained, prob- 
ably because the thick black smoke of the destroyers 
hung about the whaler on account of the stillness of 
the atmosphere and acted as a screen. The sea was 
exceptionally calm, but while this was cause for con- 
gratulation, there seemed not the faintest ray of hope 
for the poor fellows, who were entirely at the mercy 
of the enemy. 

" Imagine their feelings," suggests a lieutenant who 
took part in the battle, " alone in an open boat without 
food, twenty-five miles from the nearest land, and 
that land the enemy's fortress, with nothing but fog 
and foes around them. Suddenly a whirl alongside, 
and up, if you please, pops his Britannic Majesty's 
submarine E4, opens his conning-tower, takes them 
all on board, shuts up again, dives, and brings them 
home 250 miles ! Is that not magnificent ? No novel 
would dare to face the critics with an episode like that 
in it, except perhaps Jules Verne ; and all true ! " 
As there was no room to accommodate the twenty- 
eight Germans, three only were taken prisoners, the 
others being allowed to make good their escape in the 
boat under the charge of an ober-lieutenant. They 
were provided with a compass, water, and biscuit. 

The commander of E4, Lt.-Commander E. W. Lier, 
calmly standing at the periscope, had witnessed the 
sinking of VI 87 and the dastardly attempt of the 
German cruiser on the rescue party. He attempted 
to attack the ship, but was foiled by a change of 
course before he came within range. After covering 
the retirement of the British destroyers he returned 
and performed the feat mentioned above. 

The Battle of Heligoland Bight 

By 10 a.m. the temporary disablement of the 
Arethusa had been remedied to some extent by almost 
superhuman exertions on the part of her officers and 
crew, although her speed was considerably reduced by 
reason of a water-tank having been hit. The repairs 
were effected none too soon, for almost immediately 
Tyrwhitt received a wireless message from Keyes 
stating that the Lurcher and the Firedrake were being 
chased by the Mainz, the Koln, and another cruiser. 
The Arethusa, the Fearless, and the First Flotilla went 
to his assistance with right goodwill. One of the 
cruisers, on being attacked by gunfire and torpedoes, 
disappeared in the mist, only to come round on another 
quarter about ten minutes later. The Arethusa and 
the Fearless again brought their armament to bear 
on her, and a torpedo attack was also made, but 

" We received a very severe and almost accurate 
fire from this cruiser," runs the official dispatch ; 
" salvo after salvo was falling between ten and thirty 
yards short, but not a single shell struck ; two tor- 
pedoes were also fired at us, being well directed, but 
short. The cruiser was badly damaged by Arethusa' s 
6-inch guns and a splendidly directed fire from Fear- 
less, and she afterward turned away in the direction 
of Heligoland." 

A few minutes later the cruiser Mainz came into 
view. The Arethusa, the Fearless, and many de- 
stroyers seized on her with the avidity of hungry 
wolves. For nearly half an hour she endured their 
concentrated fire. According to an A.B. on the 
Lydiard, that ship succeeded in sending a torpedo 
into the enemy which tore an ugly, gaping wound 
in her side. The Lydiard, which was in the thick of 


The Story of the British Navy 

the fight, escaped severe handling, although a shell 
burst just before the bridge. 

Tyrwhitt had sent a wireless to Beatty summing up 
the position of affairs, and just as the German cruiser 
was seen to be in flames and sinking by the bows the 
Light-Cruiser Squadron appeared. The Falmouth and 
the Nottingham speedily decided the destiny of the 
Mainz. Every effort was now made to rescue the crew 
of the doomed cruiser. 

" The fire amidships," relates an eyewitness, " had 
made two of the funnels red-hot, and flames and smoke 
poured out of it. Her port side was like a sieve. 
Every gun was smashed and bent, some looking round 
corners, some on their sides in fact, her whole upper 
deck was chaos. The fore-bridge was a tangled mass 
of ironwork, while the wire stays from the foremast 
were swaying in the air. What she was like inside, 
heaven alone knows. We passed within a couple of 
hundred yards of her, and the only living beings on 
the upper deck were one man on the quarterdeck 
and what looked like a couple of officers standing 
under what had been the fore-bridge. Many of them 
had jumped overboard, and, of course, were rescued, 
but these only totalled seven officers and seventy- 
nine men out of a crew of 400 or 500." When volun- 
teers were asked to man the rescue boats from the 
Falmouth a stoker limped along the deck with a burnt 
leg. " That man cannot go," shouted an officer. 
" You don't pull an oar with your foot, sir," was the 

The Arethusa and the Third Flotilla next proceeded 
to deal with the Koln. The First Battle - Cruiser 
Squadron, consisting of the Lion, Princess Royal, 
Queen Mary, and New Zealand, which had been 

The Battle ot Heligoland Bight 

joined at sea by the Invincible and four destroyers, 
now came on the scene. Every movement of the 
British squadrons seemed to be regulated with the 
precision of a well-rehearsed play, yet the final part 
of the programme had not been carried out without 
running considerable risks. The enemy submarines 
had attempted to torpedo some of the ships, and 
would probably have succeeded had their designs 
not been frustrated by rapid manoeuvring that de- 
noted superb seamanship. The decision to use the 
great cruisers was made by the Vice-Admiral after he 
had carefully weighed up the likelihood of possible 
disaster from the operations of undersea craft, mines, 
and of a sortie in force by the German Main Fleet. 
" Our high speed, however," he says, " made sub- 
marine attack difficult, and the smoothness of the sea 
made their detection comparatively easy. I con- 
sidered that we were powerful enough to deal with 
any sortie except a Battle Squadron, which was 
unlikely to come out in time, provided our stroke 
was sufficiently rapid." 

When Sir David caught the first glimpse of what 
was happening as he paced the bridge of the Lion, he 
noticed that the Fearless and the First Flotilla were 
retiring westward, the Light - Cruiser Squadron was 
engaging the Mainz, and the Arethusa and the Third 
Flotilla were still busy with the Kbln. Steering in a 
direction that would enable him to cut off the Koln 
from her base, the Lion gave chase, and set her on fire. 
The Ariadne now put in an appearance. Two salvos 
were sufficient to render the new-comer unseaworthy, 
but as floating mines had been reported on the course 
she was steering, the Admiral wisely forbore from 
following his beaten quarry. He again turned his 


The Story of the British Navy 

attention to the Koln, giving her a couple of salvos 
from two turrets which sent her to Davy Jones's 
locker stern first. Not a soul was saved, although 
our destroyers raced to the spot in the hope of picking 
up possible survivors. 

The battle of Heligoland Bight was over, and the 
first naval engagement of the Great War had con- 
clusively proved the superiority of the British at sea. 
On their return northward the Queen Mary and the 
Lowestoft were unsuccessfully attacked by submarines, 
possibly those which had awaited their coming. The 
splendid fight of the Arethusa, and the heavy fire that 
she had endured, had crippled her steaming capacity 
to such an extent that she could only crawl at about 
6 knots an hour. At 9.30 p.m. the Hogue took her 
in tow, Captain W. S. Nicholson performing the task 
" in a most seamanlike manner," said Tyrwhitt, " and 
observing that the night was pitch dark and the only 
lights showing were two small hand-lanterns, I con- 
sider his action was one which deserves special notice 
from their Lordships." On arriving at the Nore the 
steel hawsers were cast off and the plucky and still 
saucy Arethusa proceeded to Chatham under her own 
steam. There she was received with rousing cheers 
that must have heartened the battle-stained sea-dogs 
as they stood by their disabled guns. 

The complements of the five enemy vessels sunk 
totalled some 1,200 officers and men. With the 
exception of the twenty-five men who were set at 
liberty and about 300 prisoners, including the son of 
Grand Admiral von Tirpitz, who were brought to land, 
the remainder perished. The total British casualties 
numbered sixty-nine killed and wounded. 



The Forlorn Hope of Coronel 

Am going to attack the enemy now. 


THE date was Sunday, November 1, 1914, 
the time two o'clock in the afternoon, and the 
place somewhere off the coast of Chile. Rear- 
Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock had just been in- 
formed that one of the wireless operators had picked 
up a message in a strange code. 

Cradock was no mere ' manoeuvres man.' He had 
entered the Navy at the age of thirteen, and but 
fifteen years after our first ironclad had taken the 
water. He had seen active service in the Sudan in 
1891, was present at the battle of Tokar and at the 
occupation of Affafit, and had been mentioned in dis- 
patches. In the following year he was serving as first 
lieutenant of H.M.S. Dolphin, and helped to rescue the 
crew of the ill-fated Brazilian warship Barroxa when 
she foundered in a gale. Eight years later Cradock 
was commander of H.M.S. Alacrity and in charge of 
the British Naval Brigade which did such splendid 
work at the storming and capture of the Taku Forts, 
and he subsequently led the allied forces which cap- 
tured the Peiyang arsenal and relieved Tientsin and 
Sir Edward Seymour's column at Siku. 

At mess some of the men of the Good Hope would 
spin yarns of the Rear- Admiral's other brave deeds ; 


The Story of the British Navy 

of how he had won the Royal Humane Society's 
testimonial for rescuing a drowning midshipman who 
had fallen overboard in the darkness in Palmas Bay, 
Sardinia, and of how he had helped to save life when 
the P. & O. liner Delhi had been wrecked off Cape 
Spartel in 1911. On this latter occasion he had been 
made a K.C.V.O. by the King, presented with the 
Silver Medal of the Board of Trade, and received the 
cordial appreciation of the Admiralty. 

When war was declared the Good Hope was 
patrolling the Irish coast. She was at no great dis- 
tance from the Southern Hebrides when a message 
was received from the Admiralty ordering her to 
sweep the trade-routes of the broad Atlantic for 
German cruisers that were known to be abroad. She 
found none, and proceeded to Halifax to coal. 
Shortly afterward Sir Christopher Cradock trans- 
ferred his flag from H.M.S. Suffolk, which had been 
carrying out similar duties, to the Good Hope. Thus 
she became the senior ship of a squadron which con- 
sisted, in addition to herself, of the Monmouth, the 
Glasgow, the Canopus, and the Otranto. Both the 
Good Hope and the Monmouth were ships of the third 
line and manned by reservists who, previous to the 
outbreak of war, had followed civil occupations since 
leaving the service, and were of necessity less inured 
to the sea than was the crew of the Glasgow, which 
had been in South American waters for some time. 

It is necessary for us to glance at a few rather dull 
but necessary particulars of the qualities of these 
fighting machines, otherwise the battle in which four 
of them played so gallant a part cannot be appreciated 
at its real worth. 

The Good Hope, officially known as an armoured 

The Forlorn Hope of Coronel 

cruiser, had been a contribution to the Navy by the 
colony whose name she bore. She was of 14,100 tons 
displacement, with a speed of 23 knots and an arma- 
ment of two 9'2-inch, sixteen 6-inch, twelve 12-pdrs., 
three 3-pdrs., and two machine-guns, and two sub- 
merged torpedo-tubes. So far as the British public 
was concerned the Good Hope was chiefly famous as 
the vessel which had taken Mr Joseph Chamberlain 
to South Africa on the conclusion of the Boer War of 
1899-1902. That eminent statesman was then Secre- 
tary of State for the Colonies, and the choice of the 
ship was particularly appropriate. The Good Hope 
had ploughed the seas for twelve years, and was 
therefore by no means a modern vessel in the sense 
of a term which is constantly undergoing revision as 
a period of time, particularly in regard to naval 

The Monmouth was an armoured cruiser of the 
' County ' class, a Glasgow ship which left the yards 
completed in 1903. Her displacement was 9,800 tons, 
her speed 23 knots, her armament fourteen 6-inch, 
eight 12-pdrs., three 3-pdrs., eight machine-guns, and 
two light guns, and she had also two submerged 
torpedo-tubes. The Glasgow is a light cruiser of the 
type used for scouting purposes, and was built by 
the same firm that had constructed the Good Hope, 
whom she post-dated by seven years. Her displace- 
ment is 4,800 tons, her speed over 26 knots, her 
armament two 6-inch, ten 4-inch, one 12-pdr., and four 
3-pdr. guns, with two submerged torpedo-tubes. 

The Otranto was an auxiliary cruiser that is to 
say, a liner commissioned for war service and lightly 
armed. Her displacement was 12,124 tons. She was 
well known to tourists to the Norwegian fiords, and 


The Story of the British Navy 

was probably the largest British ship to pay visits 
to the Land of the Midnight Sun during the summer 
months previous to the Great War. The Otranto 
belonged to the Orient line, and was built at Belfast 
in 1909. For the purpose of making prizes of German 
merchantmen she was doubtless useful, but in the 
action that was about to take place she proved rather 
worse than useless. For these reasons : the speed of 
a squadron is necessarily that of its slowest unit, and 
although the Otranto was driven by turbines, her 
utmost capacity was 18 knots only ; she presented a 
conspicuous target to the enemy, and the range and 
calibre of her guns were useless in a long-distance 

The Canopus was a venerable battleship seventeen 
years old mounting four 12-inch guns in two turrets, 
twelve 6-inch guns in armoured casemates, and six 
3-pdrs. Her speed was 16 knots, and her displace- 
ment 13,500 tons. 

From Halifax Cradock's ships had proceeded to 
Bermuda and the West Indies, and along the coasts 
of Venezuela and Brazil. Several times the stormy 
Horn, the scene of many an old-time exploit, was 
rounded, and the Falkland Islands were visited. At 
the latter the Admiral left the Canopus to guard his 
colliers, and asked for the Defence to be placed at his 
disposal. The Defence, which had been completed in 
1909, of 14,600 tons and armed with four 9'2-inch, 
ten 7'5-inch, and sixteen 12-pdrs., was accordingly 
ordered to join the squadron. Unfortunately neither 
she nor the order that he was not expected to act 
without the Canopus reached Cradock. " But he had 
been previously told," writes the official historian, 
"to 'be prepared to have to meet ' the enemy and to 

The Forlorn Hope of Coronel 

* search ' expressions which, taken together, a British 
officer in his position could only interpret as an order 
to ' seek out the enemy and destroy him.' As this 
could not be done if he had to drag the old battle- 
ship along with him, he appears to have felt that, by 
the unwritten law of the service, an order to seek out 
must override all others." The Earl of Balfour (then 
Mr A. J. Balfour), First Lord of the Admiralty, stated 
that the Admiral " had shown a wise judgment in the 
interests of his country." 

The squadron made " swoops upon wild and un- 
surveyed bays and places whither we had heard the 
enemy had gone to coal, etc., but failed to find them 
there, although we heard their secret and friendly 
wireless stations talking in code." Thus wrote an 
officer in the Glasgow. The men experienced the 
extremes of heat and cold, sweating like fat bulls of 
Bashan in some latitudes and shivering at Tierra del 
Fuego and in the infamous Magellan Straits. Some 
of the officers were perfectly well aware that the five 
German cruisers of Admiral von Spec's Pacific Squad- 
ron, the Scharnhorst, the Gneisenau, the Leipzig, the 
Dresden, and the Nurnberg were " somewhere about " 
and outclassed them in guns, but no British sailor 
has been known to admit that he could be outclassed 
in seamanship. On the lower deck there was a belief 
that the contestants would prove to be three light 
cruisers only. Perhaps the Nurnberg and the Dresden, 
which had been in the Atlantic, had come together 
and joined the Leipzig, last heard of in the North 
Pacific. Thus they argued. It seemed scarcely prob- 
able that all five had concentrated and were bearing 
down on the British squadron. These and other more 
or less plausible suggestions were ventured as the 


The Story of the British Navy 

men discussed the possibility of ' something hap- 
pening.' As to the progress of the war in the other 
hemisphere, the brave Jack Tars knew practically 
nothing. It is pathetic to read in the letters some of 
them sent home of the dreary monotony, the lack 
of news, and of the ice and snow and blazing heat 
that discomfited them. Not a few of the writers 
thought that the Admiralty could have sent a more 
imposing force, but none conveys the slightest notion 
of ' funk.' " We will fight cheerfully whatever odds 
we may have to face," are the words of the Admiral's 
secretary. " Five German cruisers against us," writes 
Surgeon Searle, of the Good Hope. " What's the 
betting on the field ? Pray to your Penates we may 
prevent them concentrating." " We have travelled 
10,000 miles hunting for the Dresden," asserts a stoker 
on the Monmouth. " We will ' bust ' her or sink. If 
we meet with bad luck, you will know all on the 
Monmouth died game, and that your son has done 
his duty to his country, pleased with the honour." 

In the fulfilment of the hope expressed by Surgeon 
Searle lay the main chance of the squadron. Should 
one or two of these German vessels be missing all 
might be well. Together the Scharnhorst and the 
Gneisenau had sixteen 8-2-inch guns, each firing 
275-lb. shells, twelve of which could be brought to 
bear on the broadside, twelve 6-inch guns, and thirty 
4-inch guns, whereas the British had in all only two 
9'2-inch guns, firing 380-lb. shells, thirty-two 6-inch 
guns, and ten 4-inch guns. So far as long range and 
weight of metal were concerned the chances against 
Cradock's ships were consequently more than four to 
one. The Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau were sister 
ships, the newest of their class, and were superior 

The Forlorn Hope of Coronel 

in armoured protection as well as in ordnance. Both 
were launched in 1906 and had a displacement of 
11,600 tons. The three light cruisers, all launched 
between 1905 and 1907, varied from 3,250 to 3,600 
tons displacement, and each had ten 4'1-inch and two 
1-pdr. guns, with two torpedo-tubes. 

On this same Sunday, but earlier in the day, the 
light cruiser Glasgow had left Coronel, Chile, from 
which place the battle which was to ensue takes its 
name. At 2 p.m., while on her way to rejoin the 
other ships at the appointed rendezvous, she received 
a signal from the Good Hope " that apparently from 
wireless calls there was an enemy ship to northward," 
to quote the captain's report. This was the secret of 
the message in a strange code already referred to. 
At 4.20 p.m. those on the look-out sighted smoke on 
the horizon. After drawing close enough to ascertain 
the nationality of the ship from whence the smoke 
emanated, the Glasgow put on full steam and made 
in the direction of the British squadron. Captain 
John Luce at once informed the Admiral of the 
approach of two armoured cruisers and one small 
cruiser in reality there were three at the same 
time warning all vessels in sight. Apparently Cradock 
received a coherent message, although the Germans 
endeavoured to break in with their own installations 
and so cause confusion. In due course the Monmouth 
and the Otranto were discovered, and at five o'clock 
the Good Hope was sighted. 

Two alternatives, and two only, presented them- 
selves to Sir Christopher Cradock. It may be that 
in speaking thus we are doing an injustice to the 
memory of a very gallant gentleman, because it is 
possible, and indeed probable, that to his mind there 


The Story of the British Navy 

was no alternative other than conflict. The alterna- 
tives, fancied or real, were these : he could fight the 
enemy and suffer defeat, or he could await the coming 
of the Canopus and then endeavour to bring him to 
battle. To the first there was the hope that he might 
inflict loss or severe damage on some of the light 
cruisers, if not on the heavier men-of-war ; to the 
second there was the likelihood of the Germans 
escaping him altogether and carrying on a one-sided 
war against British commerce. 

Forming into line ahead, his own vessel first, the 
Monmouth, the Glasgow, and the Otranto following in 
the order mentioned, Cradock led his ships into battle. 
This was a few minutes after a quarter to six o'clock, 
when the Germans, having turned south, were in 
single line-ahead, the two big cruisers leading. The 
contestants were then twelve miles apart, the distance 
being gradually reduced as the ships worked up to 
17 knots. Half an hour later, when von Spec's squad- 
ron was 15,000 yards away, the Admiral wired to the 
Canopus : " I am going to attack enemy now." Had 
the range not been too great, this was Cradock' s 
opportunity to open fire, for the sun was slowly 
setting behind the British squadron, showing up the 
enemy ships with great distinctness and therefore 
trying to the eyes of the German gunners. Cradock 
endeavoured to shorten the distance between his 
squadron and that of the enemy, but von Spec effec- 
tively precluded this manoeuvre. Not a shot was 
fired until 7.3 p.m., when the sun had disappeared 
and the British ships were silhouetted against the 
golden afterglow. Fortune thus favoured von Spec, 
and he fired salvos and speedily got the correct range. 

Not a single condition was helpful to Cradock. It 

The Forlorn Hope of Coronel 

was blowing almost a gale, with a lumpy sea, and 
firing was made difficult for the main-deck guns the 
only ones that really mattered of the Good Hope and 
the Monmouth because of the heavy spray that was 
flung over the bows. Almost the first order of the 
Admiral after the action had begun was to signal the 
captain of the Otranto to get out of the firing-line, 
and she made off in the direction of the south-west. 
According to one report, she was steaming badly and 
hampered the movements of her consorts. It is also 
said, perhaps incorrectly, that Cradock issued similar 
instructions to the Glasgow, which her captain dis- 

It is impossible to describe the battle off Coronel 
with complete accuracy, because the logs of the Good 
Hope and the Monmouth were not written up that 
day, and unfortunately never will be. A description of 
what happened must therefore be based on the dis- 
patch of Captain Luce, which is by no means a lengthy 
one, as issued by the Admiralty, the communications 
of those who served on the surviving ships, and the 
report of Admiral Maximilian Count von Spec as it 
appeared in the German newspapers. They differ in 
detail and sometimes in essentials. For instance, 
Captain Luce states that the enemy opened fire at 
12,000 yards, whereas von Spec says about 15,000 
yards, and a participant on board the Glasgow makes 
it 12,300 yards. Again, a wireless operator on the 
Otranto asserts that firing did not begin until 7.15. 
Bearing in mind the difficulties of the situation, let 
us endeavour to arrive at the main facts. 

We can readily believe with a member of the crew 
of the Otranto that " if there is a hell of fire it must 
be a naval battle." Almost immediately after the 


The Story of the British Navy 

first flash from the enemy's guns the Good Hope, the 
Monmouth, and the Glasgow responded, each ship 
engaging the one opposite to it. According to von 
Spec, the British ships suffered more from the heavy 
seas than those under his command, the vessels on 
both sides rolling and pitching heavily, particularly 
the light cruisers. " Observation and range-finding 
work," he asserts, " was most difficult, the seas 
sweeping over the forecastles and conning-towers and 
preventing the use of some guns on the middle decks, 
the crews of which were never able to see the sterns 
of their opponents, and only occasionally their bows." 
It is obvious that similar conditions obtained in the 
British squadron. The Admiral makes special men- 
tion of the gunnery of the Scharnhorst and the Gnei- 
senau, the two large armoured cruisers, which " were 
well served." He adds that the Good Hope and the 
Monmouth " were practically covered by our fire," 
a statement corroborated by British eyewitnesses, 
and that " so far as can be ascertained at present " 
there has been no subsequent report his flagship 
was only hit twice and the Gneisenau four times. 
Each of the big German cruisers concentrated six of 
their 8 '2-inch guns on the Good Hope, the smaller 
ships being outranged at the beginning of the fight. 

The third salvo from the enemy set fire to the 
fore-part of both the Good Hope and the Monmouth, 
and very soon the fore-turret of the former was well 
ablaze. The flames were apparently got under after 
what must have been almost incredible exertion on 
the part of the crews, for shells were screeching all 
around them. Both ships again caught fire, and 
remained blazing away until 7.45. The pale light of 
the moon made but a sorry show compared with the 

The Forlorn Hope of Coronel 

fierce light of the burning cruisers. According to 
von Spec, the fore - turret of the Good Hope was 
carried away, and the Scharnhorst reckoned that she 
had scored no fewer than thirty-five hits on Cradock's 
flagship. The only guns on the British flagship 
capable of making effective reply had been her two 
9'2-inch guns, her 6-inch guns being rendered almost 
useless by the height of the waves and the low line 
at which her secondary ordnance was placed. It is 
said that when the vessel rolled they were almost 
awash, and that when Cradock realized that he could 
do no further damage to the enemy he deliberately 
attempted to get closer to his antagonists, so as to 
draw their fire and thus afford some measure of pro- 
tection to his other ships. At ten minutes to eight 
an explosion lit up the darkness and the sullen sea, 
and flames two hundred feet high shot up amidships 
of the Good Hope. Thus ended her first and last fight, 
and what remained of her disappeared with her whole 
gallant company. 

Meanwhile what had happened to the Monmouth ? 
After the outbreak of fire she sheered off the line, 
but managed to get back to it, notwithstanding the 
avalanche of shells that was gradually reducing her 
floating capacity to that of a sieve. Her 6-inch guns 
fired from time to time, her only mark the flashes 
that came from the enemy. She was already sinking 
and down by the bow, and the captain therefore 
endeavoured to get her stern to sea, so as to reduce 
the intake of water. Very soon it was apparent that 
she was completely out of control, and as the Glasgow 
passed her the crew could be seen assembled at the 
stern. The brave fellows, knowing that there was 
no possibility of escape, and that within a short time 


The Story of the British Navy 

a watery grave would embrace them, gave three 
hearty British cheers. 

By the rising moon the enemy ships could be seen 
drawing on the remaining vessel of the squadron. 
In order to avoid certain destruction and to warn the 
Canopus, the Glasgow proceeded at full speed in a 
west-north-westerly direction, steering for the Magellan 
Straits. To have remained would have been certain 
suicide, and no officer is called upon to sacrifice his 
ship and his men for the mere sake of fighting or 
from any false sense of patriotism. As it was, the 
light cruiser had had several narrow escapes. A shell 
just missed the sick-bay and came hurtling through 
the captain's cabin, rendering it almost unrecogniz- 
able, a hole was torn in one of the funnels, and a 
great gash made in the lower coal-bunker necessitated 
the use of the pumps to keep the water under. An 
officer calculated that about 600 shells were aimed at 
the Glasgow. 

Although the searchlights of the pursuing vessels 
swept the sea, the engineers and stokers managed 
to get 27'8 knots out of her, notwithstanding her 
condition and the rough sea, and she gradually drew 
off. " The three days' flight in which the Glasgow 
was getting away from them," writes one who was on 
her, " will never be forgotten by any one on board, 
and if anybody deserves promotion in the Glasgow it 
is the officers and men of the engineering and car- 
penter branches. Nobody would believe the speed 
we maintained for forty-eight hours." The stokers, 
working considerably harder than the proverbial 
nigger, sang " It's a long, long way to Tipperary " 
and " We'll all go the same way home " during the 
action. At ten minutes to nine the Germans were 

The Forlorn Hope of Coronel 

lost in the darkness, but half an hour later flashes of 
fire showed that they were still concentrating on the 
helpless Monmouth. It has been stated by one who 
observed the battle that, despite her crippled and 
sinking condition, the old cruiser " went back to 
fight to cover our escape," that she " stood the rub 
while we were getting away." This tallies with von 
Spec's statement that " the Number g came across the 
Monmouth," which, badly damaged, crossed her bows 
and then tried to come alongside. " At 8.58," the 
Admiral adds, " the Number g sank her by a bom- 
bardment at point-blank range " hence the flashes 
observed from the Glasgow. " The Monmouth did not 
reply, but she went down with her flag flying." 

While we can readily believe with the German 
admiral that " there was no chance of saving any- 
body owing to the heavy sea," it is difficult to credit 
the statement that the Number g " sighted smoke and 
believed that another enemy ship was approaching, 
which she prepared to attack." At the same time 
it is only just to cite the evidence of the captain of 
the French barque Valentine regarding the sinking of 
the Good Hope, which von Spee says his small cruisers 
were unable to find. The Valentine was sunk by one 
of von Spec's ships within half a mile of Juan Fer- 
nandez, the volcanic group of islands associated with 
Alexander Selkirk, on whose exploits Defoe is said 
to have based his story of Robinson Crusoe. She 
was consequently in Chilian territorial waters, and 
the Germans therefore violated the neutrality of the 
Republic. According to a United Press correspondent, 
the captain swore before a public notary that while 
he was a prisoner aboard one of the cruisers he heard 
Germans assert that numerous British sailors were 


The Story of the British Navy 

seen swimming after the destruction of Cradock's 
flagship, that they could have been saved, but the 
enemy allowed them to drown. It should be remem- 
bered, however, that when a ship is in action the boats 
are not on davits and are usually filled with water, 
and that consequently they are not readily available. 
Certainly on this particular occasion it is doubtful 
whether rescue work could have been safely under- 
taken owing to the bad weather. Von Spee was a 
worthy enemy, as the following story will prove. It 
is related by the Hon. W. Allardyce, ex-Governor of 
the Falkland Islands, and later Governor of the 
Bahamas. He had been told that after the battle 
the German colony at Valparaiso gave a banquet 
to celebrate the victory. When the final toast of 
" Damnation to the British Navy ! " was proposed the 
German admiral jumped up and said that neither 
he nor his officers would respond, and they at once 
withdrew. The steps near the doors were covered 
with flowers, and von Spee remarked as he saw them : 
" I think you had better keep these for my grave. 
They may be wanted." 

In his report Captain John Luce, of the Glasgow, 
whose name will always be held in honour for the 
valiant part he played, says : " Nothing could have 
been more admirable than conduct of officers and 
men throughout. Though it was most trying to re- 
ceive great volume of fire without chance of returning 
it adequately, all kept perfectly cool, there was no 
wild firing, and discipline was the same as at battle 

" When target ceased to be visible, gunlayers spon- 
taneously ceased fire. 

" The serious reverse sustained has entirely failed 

The Forlorn Hope of Coronel 

to impair the spirit of officers and ship's company, 
and it is our unanimous wish to meet the enemy 
again as soon as possible." 

Von Spec states that the fire of the Glasgow was 
" harmless," and gives the number of casualties on 
the Gneisenau as " two slightly wounded " and none 
on the small cruisers, while any losses on the Scharn- 
horst are ignored. The Glasgow, after eluding the 
enemy, put in at Rio de Janeiro, where she was re- 
paired by permission of the Brazilian Government, 
who gave her a stated time for the purpose. How 
efficiently this task was carried out, and what 
excellent work she performed in the battle off the 
Falkland Islands on the following December 8th, 
when von Spec met with retribution, will be told in 
the next chapter. 

We have seen that Sir Christopher Cradock's defeat 
was almost a foregone conclusion before so much as 
a shot was fired. One at least of the German papers, 
the Berlin Allgemeine Zeitung, paid a fitting com- 
pliment to the 1,654 men who met death so gallantly 
on that cheerless November evening. While making 
the most of the victory, the writer adds : " On the 
other hand we too must recognize, if the present re- 
ports are confirmed, that the British ships strove to 
the last moment to keep their colours flying, and that 
the cruiser Monmouth in her own extremity tried her 
best to take with her beneath the waves a German 
ship. The naval victory in Chilian waters is the more 
valuable because it was gained over a courageous 

Of the crew of the Good Hope four alone were saved, 
and for no other reason than that they had the good 
fortune to be on an island doing look-out duties when 


The Story of the British Navy 

the battle was fought. A Chilian transport and the 
Red Cross steamers Valdivia and Chiloe were dis- 
patched to search for possible survivors, but they 
found neither sailors nor wreckage. A few weeks 
later British bluejackets on one of the British battle- 
cruisers that exacted retribution for the loss of the 
Good Hope and the Monmouth fired a volley over the 
spot where their comrades perished. 
A fine and gallant story ! 



Sturdee's Triumph at the Falklands 

Silence ! Deeds, not words ! 


THREE days before the names of Sir Chris- 
topher Cradock and his band of heroes were 
added to Britain's ever-lengthening Roll of 
Honour, a little man of grim visage hurried up the 
steps of the huge block of buildings known as the 
Admiralty. A few people who happened to be passing 
recognized the trim figure, the ashen-grey and pur- 
poseful face, and the slightly stooping shoulders as 
the outward and visible signs of the most dominating 
personality of modern naval history. The second 
administration of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fisher of 
Kilverstone as First Sea Lord had begun. 

He struck his first blow on the 8th of the following 
December, not in the North Sea, as so many folk had 
anticipated, but in the South Atlantic, off the coast 
of Argentina, and far removed from the main theatre 
of war. When he received news of Cradock' s disaster 
he went quietly to work to avenge the loss of the 
Good Hope and the Monmouth, choosing for his pur- 
pose Vice-Admiral Sir Frederick Charles Doveton 
Sturdee, Chief of the War Staff at the Admiralty, 
and the ships Invincible, Inflexible, Carnarvon, Corn- 
wall, Kent, Bristol, Glasgow, Canopus, and Macedonia, 
some of which were already near the scene of the 


The Story of the British Navy 

intended operations. Nelson said, " Only numbers 
can annihilate," a maxim dear to the heart of Lord 
Fisher. Two battle-cruisers, one battleship, three 
armoured cruisers, two light cruisers, and an armed 
liner were provided for the purpose. Sturdee was 
given what poor Cradock had lacked speed and 
heavy armament. To von Spec's broadside of six 
8'2-inch guns on the Scharnhorst, hurling 1,650 Ib. of 
metal, Sturdee could make reply with eight 12-inch 
guns firing 6,800 Ib. In speed the British admiral's 
flagship, the Invincible, was 2 knots faster than the 

" I very well remember," writes Rear- Admiral Sir 
Douglas Brownrigg, Bart., " the sending off of the 
cables which ordered the two battle-cruisers, Invin- 
cible and Inflexible then with the Grand Fleet to 
come south, and the further message which flatly 
declined to listen to any reasons for delay at Plymouth 
where they were preparing for their long voyage to 
the south stating bluntly that, whether this or that 
fitting was completed or not, the ships were posi- 
tively to sail on the date and at the time ordered. 
The workmen, if necessary, were to be taken to sea 
in the ships to finish their work en route to the south. 
Under no considerations was the departure of the 
ships to be delayed. On that point Lord Fisher was 
inflexible. The ships left as arranged, and, fortun- 
ately for this country, the imperious and forceful old 
man had his way." 

Since the battle off Coronel the inhabitants of the 
rugged Falkland Islands, which lie about 250 miles 
east of the mainland of South America, had not been 
at all easy in their minds by reason of their isolation 
and the menace of von Spec. At any moment the 

Sturdee' s Triumph at the Falklands 

German ships might appear on the horizon, the wire- 
less station would be destroyed as a matter of course, 
and for all they knew men, women, and children 
would be put to the sword. 

To the intense relief of the islanders, the British 
squadron arrived on December 7th, and at once pro- 
ceeded to take in coal. The task was finished not a 
moment too soon, for early on the morning of the 
following day the enemy ships were sighted from the 
top of a hill by a member of a local volunteer force, 
and the information signalled to Admiral Sturdee. It 
is said that when the flag-lieutenant, clad in pyjamas, 
informed the Admiral that the enemy was in sight, 
Sir Frederick Sturdee stopped his shaving and calmly 
remarked : " Well, you had better go and get dressed, 
and we'll see about it later." His first order was for 
the crews to have breakfast. 

At the moment the Macedonia, to outward appear- 
ance a harmless liner, was at anchor at the mouth 
of the bay serving as a look-out ship, the Kent and 
the battle-cruisers the Invincible and the Inflexible 
were at Port William, and the remaining vessels at 
Port Stanley, or, as we may term them, the outer 
and the inner harbour respectively. It was of the 
utmost importance that von Spee should be kept in 
ignorance of the presence of the battle-cruisers until 
Sturdee was ready for his coup. Word was accord- 
ingly passed down to the engine-room that steam was 
to be raised with oil fuel, which emits the filthiest 
smoke imaginable. It soon came pouring out of the 
giant funnels in mammoth wreaths that filled the 
harbour and for a time effectually screened everything 
from view. Down below in each ship the stokers 
worked with a will to raise steam for full speed in the 


The Story of the British Navy 

shortest possible time. Every tick of the engine- 
room clock seemed to increase the tension. The 
' black gang ' took on added dignity, for they alone 
could prevent the escape of the Germans. Then the 
Kent slowly left her moorings and stationed herself 
at the entrance to the bay. 

When the leading enemy ships, the Gneisenau and 
the Nurnberg, were within range, the Canopus fired 
across the low neck of land. They turned away, 
shortly afterward altering their course so as to engage 
the Kent. While this was being done they apparently 
discerned the battle-cruisers, for the Gneisenau and 
the Nurnberg made off in the direction of their con- 
sorts to seek safety in flight. The Glasgow then 
emerged from her hiding-place and joined the Kent 
in order that von Spee's movements might be kept 
under further observation. Five minutes afterward 
the main squadron, with the exception of the Bristol, 
steamed out, the Carnarvon leading, followed by the 
Inflexible, the Invincible (flagship), and the Cornwall. 
The weather conditions were perfect clear, calm, and 
sunshiny, with a light breeze. They were therefore 
in marked contrast to those which obtained when 
Cradock gave battle off Coronel. 

When the Invincible poked her inquisitive nose out 
of harbour the rear ship of the enemy was seventeen 
miles away. Then began a chase lasting for over 
two hours. The battle-cruisers forged ahead and 
speedily overtook the Kent, but just before going 
into action they slowed down, so that all might take 
up their allotted stations. Mrs Roy Felton, watching 
the progress of the race from a hill, saw two enemy 
colliers coming from the direction of Cape Horn. 
She telephoned to the authorities, who sent the news 

Sturdee's Triumph at the Falklands 

by wireless to the British admiral. The Bristol and 
the armed auxiliary Macedonia were detailed to deal 
with them. They promptly removed the crews of the 
colliers and sank the ships. For her patriotic service 
the lady was presented with a piece of plate by the 

At 12.47 p.m. Sir Frederick Sturdee ordered the 
Invincible, the Inflexible, and the Glasgow to " Open 
fire and engage the enemy." The Inflexible let fly 
from her fore-turret at the Leipzig, followed by the 
Invincible, which also made a target of the light 
cruiser. The latter soon began to drop astern. The 
firing was altogether too fast and furious for comfort. 
Together with the Nurnberg and Dresden she turned 
away to the south-west, hoping to escape. Immedi- 
ately the Kent, the Glasgow, and the Cornwall steamed 
off in the same direction. 

The battle-cruisers and the Carnarvon now trans- 
ferred their attention to von Spee's flagship and the 
Gneisenau. When the range was ascertained, after 
another chase due to change of course, Admiral 
Sturdee signalled " God save the King," and the 
' great grey wolves of the sea ' opened fire at a dis- 
tance of about seven miles, speedily setting the 
Scharnhorst ablaze forward, and causing the reply of 
her guns to slacken. The Gneisenau was also wounded. 
By 3.30 the third funnel of the Scharnhorst was shot 
away. The effect of the fire on this vessel, says Sir 
Frederick Sturdee, " became more and more apparent 
in consequence of smoke from fires, and also escaping 
steam ; at times a shell would cause a large hole to 
appear in her side, through which could be seen a dull 
red glow of flame. At 4.4 p.m. the Scharnhorst, whose 
flag remained flying to the last, suddenly listed heavily 


The Story of the British Navy 

to port, and within a minute it became clear that she 
was a doomed ship ; for the list increased very rapidly 
until she lay on her beam-ends, and at 4.17 p.m. she 
disappeared." Admiral von Spec went down with 
his flagship, and his two sons also perished. The 22nd 
German Navy casualty list consisted of the names of 
877 officers and men missing from the Scharnhorst. 

The Invincible was hit by several shells, and a hole 
was made on the stokers' mess-deck, above the water- 
line. One shell dropped almost vertically, and ex- 
ploded in the Admiral's store, where it did no vital 
damage. All her injuries were of a minor character 
and soon repaired. Her gunners had been firing on 
and off for about five hours. 

The consort of the German flagship continued to 
put up a spirited defence, although she was now sub- 
jected to the full fury of the Invincible, the Inflexible, 
and the Carnarvon. The forward funnel was bowled 
over ; the flashes from her armament became more 
fitful. By 5.30 her engines had stopped, steam was 
pouring from her escape pipes, fires were evident in 
a dozen different parts of the ship, smoke belched 
forth and hung like a canopy above the stricken vessel. 
Apparently a single gun only remained workable, and 
spluttered at intervals. The Germans were ' game ' 
to the last. Ten minutes after Admiral Sturdee had 
given the order to cease fire the Gneisenau heeled over 
and lay for a minute on her beam-ends. Then she 
sank like a stone. 

Everything possible was done to rescue the crew, 
some 600 of whom had been killed or wounded during 
this contest of giants. Scores were numbed by the 
icy water and disappeared, but as many as possible 
were lifted into boats sent by the British ships, while 

Sturdee's Triumph at the Falklands 

others were saved by lifebuoys and other articles 
that were flung overboard. On the battle-cruisers 
officers and men rubbed the survivors with towels 
to stimulate the circulation, gave them every comfort 
they could think of, put them in blankets, treated 
them as gallant gentlemen. " The men and officers 
we picked up were stiff as pieces of wood in the 
freezing water," notes one who was engaged in the 
work of rescue. Some died while they were being 
brought in, and were buried at sea with full naval 
honours. Thus does Britain honour the gallant dead, 
whether friend or enemy. After the first sharp sting 
of defeat had disappeared two of the German officers 
amused themselves by working out the details of the 
fight with matches to represent the various ships, 
and another congratulated the gunnery-officer of the 
Inflexible on his rapid rate of fire and the number of 
hits he made. 

Much had happened in the encounter of the light 
cruisers. In the pursuit of the enemy vessels the 
gallant little Glasgow, as though eager to wipe out 
the stain of the action off Coronel, drew ahead of the 
Cornwall and the Kent. At 3 o'clock her 6-inch guns 
began to speak in no uncertain language to the 
Leipzig. Her object was to endeavour to outrange 
that ship " and thus cause her to alter her course and 
give the Cornwall and the Kent a chance of coming 
into action." 

v About 7.15 the Leipzig was hors de combat " on 
fire from stem to stern and like a sieve," says a sailor 
on the Cornwall although she remained afloat until 
9 o'clock. When the signal officer of the Glasgow 
shouted out that a wireless had been received from 
the Admiral, saying that both the Scharnhorst and the 


The Story of the British Navy 

Gneisenau were sunk, so loud were the cheers that the 
enemy must have understood what had happened. 

Those who manned the Glasgow's boats beheld an 
awful sight. " She was like a glowing furnace, and 
as it was getting dark it showed up more," says one 
of the seamen. " We played our searchlights on her, 
and we could see some men up the only mast standing. 
She gave three slight heaves to port and then turned 
completely upside down, sinking with only just a 
hiss of steam and a bubble. The men remaining 
jumped over the side and we picked them up. We 
got five officers and eleven men, and the Cornwall one 
officer and three men, all that were left of 368." 

Meanwhile the Kent had fixed her grip on the 
Niirnberg after a long chase, for the enemy ship was 
the faster of the two. Yet the * black squad ' managed 
by dint of extraordinary exertions to work up her 
engines to a couple of knots above their designed 
speed, and thus gradually overtook the retreating 
cruiser. Ladders were hacked to pieces, every avail- 
able door and fitting, armchair and table was broken 
up to provide fuel for the furnaces. Within an hour 
and a half the Kent had brought her antagonist to a 
standstill and set her on fire. " It was a single-ship 
action," says the captain, " as no other ship was in 
sight at the time. The chase commenced at noon 
and the action commenced at 5 p.m. After a sharp 
action, during which the Kent was struck by the 
enemy's shell no less than thirty-six times, the 
Niirnberg sank at 7.26 p.m. . . . From the time 
the enemy was sighted until the end of the action 
the behaviour of the officers and men of the Kent 
was perfectly magnificent." The German ensign was 
hauled down, yet a little group of men waved a flag 

Sturdee's Triumph at the Falklands 

as she took the plunge. Captain Schonberg is re- 
ported to have said at Honolulu : " The Number g 
will very likely be our coffin, but we are ready to 
fight to the last." Of the twelve men rescued only 
seven survived, while the Kent had four killed and 
twelve wounded. A cause of much grief on the part 
of the crew was the loss of the ship's pet canary. It 
disappeared, cage and all. The silk ensign presented 
by the county after which the cruiser was named was 
reduced to ribbons. 

It was on this ship that Sergeant Charles Mayes 
performed a splendid act of bravery, for which he 
was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal. The 
deed is thus set forth in The London Gazette : "A 
shell burst and ignited some cordite charges in the 
casemate ; a flash of flame went down the hoist into 
the ammunition passage. Sergeant Mayes picked up 
a charge of cordite and threw it away. He then got 
hold of a hose-pipe and flooded the compartment, 
extinguishing the fire in some empty shell-bags which 
were burning. The extinction of this fire saved a 
disaster which might have led to the loss of the ship." 

In his dispatch to the Admiralty Sir Frederick 
Sturdee pays a well-deserved tribute to the British 
crews. " I have pleasure," he says, " in reporting 
that the officers and men under my orders carried 
out their duties with admirable efficiency and cool- 
ness, and great credit is due to the Engineer Officers 
of all the ships, several of which exceeded their normal 
full speed." 

A stoker on the Kent not only underwent the trying 
experiences of the Falkland Islands battle, but had 
been in the Oravia when she was lost, in the Olympic 
when she collided with the evil-starred Hawke, only 


The Story of the British Navy 

just missed sailing in the Titanic because of illness, 
and was one of the crew of the Pathfinder, which was 
sunk by a submarine on the 5th of the previous 
September. The total British casualties amounted to 
seven killed and twelve wounded. No officers were 
killed or wounded. The Germans lost nearly 2,200 
officers and men. 

Toward the end of the afternoon the weather 
changed. The sky became overcast and cloudy, the 
sea choppy. Moreover, the visibility was much re- 
duced, and under cover of the gathering darkness 
the Dresden managed to escape. She remained at 
large until the 14th of the following March. In 
avoiding capture she proved herself entirely worthy of 
her sister ship, the Emden, although she did nothing 
like the amount of damage, and when she was at last 
cornered she put up but a half-hearted fight. She 
was caught by the Glasgow, the Kent, and the 
auxiliary cruiser Orama near Juan Fernandez Island. 
The action was one of the shortest on record. It 
lasted five minutes. The Dresden then hauled down 
her colours and displayed the white flag. Shortly 
after the crew had left their ship her magazine ex- 
ploded and she disappeared. Fifteen badly wounded 
Germans were landed at Valparaiso, the remainder of 
the crew being conveyed in a Chilian cruiser to the 
Quiriquina Islands, north of Coronel. A pig from the 
Dresden became the mascot of one of the British war- 
ships, and was duly decorated with a cardboard replica 
of the Iron Cross. 

The action was afterward made the subject of 
protest on the part of the Chilian Government. It 
was pointed out that the Dresden had put in at Juan 
Fernandez to repair, her commander requesting that 

Sturdee's Triumph at the Falklands 

she might be allowed eight days for the purpose. He 
was given twenty-four hours in which to leave, and 
as he did not go he was notified by the Maritime 
Governor that his ship would be interned. At this 
juncture the British ships arrived, and when she was 
ordered to surrender the crew blew up the magazine. 

Sir Edward Grey answered that so far as his 
information went " the Dresden had not accepted 
internment, and still had her colours flying and her 
guns trained," which probably led the captain of the 
Glasgow to assume, " especially in view of the past 
action of the Dresden, that she was defying the 
Chilian authorities and abusing Chilian neutrality, 
and was only awaiting a favourable opportunity to 
sally out and attack British commerce again." At 
the same time his Majesty's Government offered a 
full and ample apology. It was afterward stated 
unofficially that the action took place about twelve 
miles off Robinson Crusoe's island. 

The King sent a message to the Admiral and the 
officers and men under his command, congratulating 
them on their victory, General French offered the 
felicitations of the Army in France, the Board of 
Admiralty wired their thanks. To the felicitations of 
Vice-Admiral R. Yashiro, the Japanese Minister of 
Marine, Mr Winston Churchill replied at some length. 
The First Lord made it evident that had von Spec 
turned westward again the victory would doubtless 
have fallen to the Japanese and Australian squadrons, 
which were coming from the north in the general 

" With the sinking of Scharnhorst, Gneisenau y 
Leipzig, and N timber g" he said, " the whole of the 
German squadron based on Tsingtau at the outbreak 


The Story of the British Navy 

of the war has been destroyed, and that base itself 
reduced and captured. 1 This event marks the con- 
clusion of the active operations in which the Allied 
fleets have been engaged in the Pacific for more than 
four months, and though it has fallen to a British 
squadron in the South Atlantic to strike the final 
blow, it is largely owing to the powerful and untiring 
assistance rendered by the Japanese Fleet that this 
result has been achieved." 

Addressing the House of Commons, Mr Winston 
Churchill referred to the battle off the Falkland 
Islands as " a memorable event, the relief and advan- 
tage of which will only be fully appreciated by those 
who have full knowledge of all that has taken place. 
The strain in the early months of the war has been 
greatly diminished now by the abatement of distant 
convoy work and by the clearance of the enemy's 
flag from the seas and oceans. There were times 
when, for instance, the great Australian convoy of 
sixty ships was crossing the Indian Ocean, or the 
great Canadian convoy of forty ships, with its pro- 
tecting squadrons, was crossing the Atlantic, or when 
the regular flow of large Indian convoys of forty or 
fifty ships sailing in company was at its height both 
ways ; when there was a powerful German cruiser 
squadron still at large in the Pacific or the Atlantic, 
which had to be watched for or waited for in superior 
force in six or seven different parts of the world at 
once, and when all the time, within a few hours' steam 
of our own shores, there was concentrated a hostile 
fleet which many have argued in former times was 
little inferior to our own, when there was hardly a 
regular soldier left at home, and before the Territorial 

1 Tsingtau fell on November 7, 1914. 

Sturdee's Triumph at the Falklands 

Force and the new armies had attained their present 
high efficiency and power there were times when 
our naval resources, considerable as they are, were 
drawn upon to their utmost limit. But the victory 
at the Falkland Islands swept all these difficulties 
out of existence ; it set free a large force of cruisers 
and battleships for all purposes ; it opened the way 
to other operations of great interest. It enabled a 
much stricter control and more constant outlook to 
be maintained in home waters, and it almost entirely 
freed the outer seas of danger." 

The long elephantine stretch of land known terri- 
torially as Chile and Argentina, with the tip of its 
trunk marked by Cape Horn and its mouth by the 
Rio de la Plata, became suddenly important to every 
Briton in the closing months of the year of the Great 
Betrayal. It seemed to be altogether beyond the 
range of the conflict ; yet Coronel on the one side, 
and the Falkland Islands on the other, developed 
into something more than mere geographical ex- 
pressions, meaningless enough to the average man. 
From them a British defeat and a British victory 
took their names. Until the sea gives up its dead 
Sir John Cradock and his comrades will repose in the 
waters of the Pacific, while the waves of the South 
Atlantic will swing to and fro like grass before the 
wind above the graves of Count von Spee and the 
men who helped him to vanquish his foe and were so 
speedily vanquished themselves. 



Commerce-destroying on the High Seas 

Our Navy kept the seas. Without the Navy and the Mer- 
cantile Marine the war would have been over in six months. 
We should have collapsed. D. LLOYD GEORGE 

THE High Sea Fleet put forth little or no effort 
to safeguard German commerce. The gross 
tonnage of enemy merchant-ships of over 500 
gross tons captured by Great Britain and condemned 
during the war was 322,202. In addition 319,316 
gross tons of enemy ships were detained. Most of 
the vessels which escaped did so by seeking refuge 
in neutral ports. In far-distant waters, as we have 
already noted, several cruisers did considerable dam- 
age before they were rounded up, and from time to 
time raiders played havoc on the trade-routes, as well 
as submarines. 

On August 6, 1914, there slipped out of the harbour 
of Tsingtau a certain German light cruiser of 3,650 
tons. During the following three months the extra- 
ordinary exploits of H.I.G.M.S. Emden amazed news- 
paper readers of both hemispheres, annoyed exces- 
sively the commanding officers of various Australian, 
British, French, Russian, and Japanese men-of-war, 
whose vigilance she eluded, tried the nerves of ship- 
owners whose vessels plied in Eastern waters, and 
plundered the pockets of many an underwriter. 

In addition to being a skilful seaman, Captain Karl 

Commerce-destroying on the High Seas 

von Miiller possessed a fund of robust humour which 
stood him in good stead, for he frankly admitted on 
more than one occasion that he was well aware that 
a long career was not to be expected. It was a clear 
case of ' a short life and a merry one,' as subsequent 
events proved. In one respect he was greatly favoured 
by fortune. He had on board a certain Lieutenant 
Meyer, who had served in Hamburg - Amerika liners 
running to India, and whose knowledge of the waters 
must have helped very considerably. 

It has also been suggested that Miiller may have 
studied to advantage the career of Robert Surcouf, 
who performed many feats as a privateer in the 
Indian seas. Surcouf, however, usually turned his 
prizes into cash by sending them into Mauritius, 
which then belonged to the French, whereas Miiller 
had no advantage of the kind open to him. 

The way in which the Emden managed to escape 
from the neighbourhood of Tsingtau, the seaport of 
the German settlement of Kiao-chau, on the Yellow 
Sea, reads like an extract from one of the chapters 
of Max Pemberton's well-known Iron Pirate. The 
story, as based on the narrative of Meyer, is this. 
In the immediate vicinity was a Japanese armoured 
cruiser which was a most inconvenient neighbour to 
have. The Emden was therefore painted the colour 
of vessels of the British Navy. Then, at the sug- 
gestion of the chief engineer, who entered into the 
spirit of the great adventure in the schoolboy fashion 
of the captain, a dummy funnel was rigged up. The 
addition of a White Ensign at the stern completed 
her disguise so far as it was possible to do so. The 
question was whether the officers of the aforemen- 
tioned cruiser would notice anything suspicious. Seeing 


The Story of the British Navy 

that they were not British, and consequently less 
familiar with the lines of the light cruisers of our 
Navy, there was just a chance that the transformed 
Emden would escape. 

The bluff worked admirably. As the Emden 
steamed past the cruiser the gallant little Japanese 
lined the decks and the ensigns of each were duly 
dipped, as custom and international courtesy ordain. 
The Germans even ventured on giving three British 
cheers. Then the Emden gradually receded in the 
distance and disappeared. For six weeks she was 
completely lost. During that time lack of news gave 
ample scope for rumour. It was asserted that the 
Emden had been in action with the Russian cruiser 
Askold, and that both had sunk as a result. In these 
things Rumour lied. 

During the three months of her feverish existence 
as a commerce-raider, comparable in some degree with 
that of the Alabama of American Civil War fame, 
the Emden captured or sank ships and cargoes cal- 
culated to be worth somewhere between 2,000,000 
and 4,000,000 sterling. Her victims numbered 
twenty-three, including a Russian cruiser and a 
French torpedo-boat destroyer. She must have 
travelled many thousands of miles during her 
" crowded hour of glorious life." More than once 
she was sighted by British cruisers, but on each 
occasion her speed of 24 knots enabled her to escape. 
Napoleon believed that war should support war ; 
Captain von Miiller either had to enforce the prin- 
ciple or perish. With her bunkers crammed to their 
utmost capacity, the Emden could only take 850 tons 
of coal, and her crew of 361 officers and men had to 
be fed. Now it is fairly obvious that she could not 

Commerce-destroying on the High Seas 

afford to be sparing of her use of motive power, 
because speed was her greatest asset, and it was im- 
possible for her to carry sufficient provisions to last 
for the three months she was at liberty. Conse- 
quently war had to support war. Miiller and his 
merry men had to live on their captives. 

This modern corsair was launched and completed 
in 1909 at Danzig dockyard. For a vessel of her size 
her armament was good, for she carried ten 4'1-inch 
quick-firers, eight 5-pdr. guns, and two submerged 
torpedo-tubes. Her protection was a 2-inch steel 
deck over the boiler and engine spaces. Seen from a 
distance she looked like a travelling factory, for her 
funnels were very tall. 

To scour the seas for this very modern and sub- 
stantial Flying Dutchman was an exceedingly difficult 
matter, and the fact that she disappeared for weeks 
together is no reflection on those whose duty it was 
to destroy her. Compared with the immense area to 
be covered, the North Sea was a mere lake, and the 
sheltered bays and islets in which she could hide were 
many and varied. 

She tapped wireless messages, thus securing in- 
formation of the utmost service to her, and it has 
been suggested that she also received help from 
certain German Protestant missions in Southern India 
or the Western Ghauts, and the island of Pulo Weh, 
north of Sumatra. A small German sailing-vessel 
called the Comet, captured by the Australian Navy, 
was found to have on board a complete wireless tele- 
graph installation which it is quite possible assisted 
the Emden. She used her own apparatus to good effect 
by sending out calls which lured British merchantmen 
to their doom. 


The Story of the British Navy 

The Emderis preliminary depredations took place 
in the Bay of Bengal between the 10th and the 14th 
of September, when she sank five vessels varying 
from 3,544 tons to 7,615 tons which had set out from 
the Hugli, and captured a sixth, the Kabinga. It is 
significant that it was generally understood that 
transports with the Indian contingent on board would 
leave about this time. 

Karl von Miiller carried out his warfare in no cold- 
blooded-murder fashion. The crews of the unfor- 
tunate ships were always allowed to take to the boats, 
or some other suitable provision was made for their 
safety, and they were invariably treated in a courteous 
way. On this particular occasion, or rather series of 
occasions, the sixth vessel was released because the 
captain's wife was on board, and Miiller had not the 
heart to send a woman off in an open boat in rough 

This, at any rate, was the explanation made by 
the gallant Miiller. According to the lady most con- 
cerned, when a shot was fired across the vessel's bows 
it was thought that the pursuing vessel was a British 
cruiser. The captain and his wife were made prisoners 
and thirty men stationed on the Kabinga. She was 
compelled to follow in the track of the German war- 
ship for forty-eight hours, and was then released. 
' The German officers treated us well, and were 
gentlemen," says the witness. In the interim the 
Harrison liner Diplomat, on her homeward voyage to 
Liverpool, had also been sighted by the Emden and 
forced to stop, the passengers being removed to the 
Kabinga, with those of the other ships. Five shots were 
fired at the Diplomat, and eventually she disappeared 
from mortal ken, plunging bows forward into the deep. 

Commerce-destroying on the High Seas 

" The German commander," writes the captain of 
the Kabinga in his official report, " warned me to 
approach the Hugli with caution, as the pilots were 
off station, the lightships and buoys removed, he 
having heard Calcutta giving the pilot these instruc- 
tions by wireless. My wireless installation was 
wrecked as soon as I was captured, but they over- 
looked the fact that we had spare wire on board for 
new aerials, and that the installations worked from 
the ship's dynamo. They threw the accumulators 
away, thinking the Marconi set was then finished. 
We rigged new wires as soon as possible, and the 
Marconi operators repaired the machinery, and on the 
15th I got into communication with Calcutta." Upon 
arrival at that port the Kabinga had some four 
hundred souls aboard. 

The next victim was the liner Clan Matheson, which 
was sunk a few days after the encounter with the 

The enterprising commander of the Emden now 
varied his adventures by shelling Madras, the only 
city of importance on the east coast of India that 
lay open to him. Like the raids on Yarmouth and 
Hartlepool, it was a case of doing the maximum of 
damage in the minimum of time, because of the 
possibility of the naval hounds catching the naval 
hare. Still, Captain von Miiller showed considerable 
intrepidity in steaming under cover of night into the 
roads, finding the position of the great oil-tanks with 
the aid of his searchlights, and coolly bombarding the 
city for a quarter of an hour. Apparently the main idea 
was to shell the tanks in the hope that the blazing 
liquid would escape and set fire to the adjacent build- 
ings, thus involving the capital of the presidency. 


The Story of the British Navy 

The first two shells struck the steamer Chupra, 
a vessel of 6,175 tons owned by the British India 
Steam Navigation Company, which happened to be 
directly in the line of fire. The third shell hit the 
bungalow of the manager of the Burma Oil Company, 
and wrecked a bedroom. Fortunately the family got 
away, although they narrowly escaped death from 
another shell that burst near them, killing the 
durwan. Another fell near a native policeman, and 
so great was the concussion that his body was subse- 
quently recovered from the harbour. A poor little 
child walking by the side of the tramway was killed 
by a fragment of shell, and the surgical ward of the 
Varendas Hospital was struck. An iron bogie wagon 
near by was so punctured by splinters of flying steel 
that it looked like a giant sieve on wheels, and the 
telegraph-office and the Seamen's Club House were 
also hit. By this time two of the huge kerosene oil 
tanks were alight, but by great good fortune those 
containing petrol were missed ; otherwise a most 
disastrous tragedy would have ensued. The guns of 
Fort George opened against the hostile ship, but 
certainly failed to do material damage to her. In 
the circumstances the work of the gun-layers on the 
Emden was excellent. Very soon the buildings of the 
city stood up like gaunt ghosts as the lurid flames, 
fed by a million and a half gallons of oil, reached 
higher and higher until they were visible for a hundred 
miles, and above all rolled a dense black cloud that 
slowly coiled up from the blazing tanks and formed a 
mammoth drop - curtain. According to one corre- 
spondent there was no commotion in Madras, while 
another has it that there was " frightful excitement " 
on the part of the natives, many of whom fled from 

Commerce-destroying on the High Seas 

what they doubtless regarded as a doomed city. 
Others, whose curiosity got the better of fear, lined 
the beach and coolly watched the flash of the guns 
from the fort and the ship. In fifteen minutes the 
Emden managed to do 50,000 worth of damage. 

The bombardment of Madras took place on Sept- 
ember 22nd. On the following day information was 
received of the occurrence by H.M.S. Hampshire. 
On the 25th, when the same cruiser was nearing 
Madras, she ascertained that the enemy was off the 
French settlement of Pondicherry. Here also she 
fired a few shots, and yet again Dame Fortune 
favoured her, for the Hampshire arrived off the port 
just two hours after the will-o'-the-wisp of the Indian 
Ocean had left. That the cruiser only just missed 
her quarry is proved by the statement of the captain 
of one of the prizes, who was informed that on one 
occasion the commanding officer of the Emden ascer- 
tained by means of wireless messages that the 
Hampshire was eight miles distant. 

Looking for the proverbial needle in a pottle of 
hay was mere child's play compared to the task of 
the Allied commanders, particularly as it was the 
season of the mist-making monsoon. " We have 
been right south in the heat, and now we are 
shivering," writes a bugler in a British cruiser which 
missed the Emden by a matter of ten miles. On this 
occasion, and in company with two other ships, a 
bold attempt was made to come within range of the 
rover. Everything was going well when a fog came 
on, and that was the end of the chase. On this par- 
ticular occasion the fugitive was accompanied by 
three colliers. 

In the last week of September half a dozen vessels, 


The Story of the British Navy 

aggregating over 24,000 tons, fell to the prowess of 
the intrepid Miiller. Of these, four were sent to the 
bottom of the Indian Ocean, one was released for the 
purpose of taking the crews of the others to Colombo, 
and a collier was retained for fairly obvious reasons. 
Fortunately three of the prizes were in ballast, but 
another, the Tymeric, was making her way from Java 
to Falmouth with a valuable cargo of sugar. 

Previous to their release the officers and men of 
the captured ships were treated with much kindness 
on board the Emden. No lights were allowed in their 
cabins at night a wise precaution to prevent the 
possibility of signalling but the men were given 
opportunities for recreation during the day. A 
steward apologized for bringing pancakes and ham 
for breakfast, and the prisoners were further regaled 
with a performance of the band on Sunday. 

The Emden s usual procedure in securing her prey 
was to signal " Stop ! " and then to send an armed 
crew aboard. After the ship's papers had been ex- 
amined, the vessel was searched for provisions and any 
articles that the Emden happened to be requiring. 
Sometimes the crew were given ten minutes to get their 
belongings together, occasionally half an hour. " It 
is the fortune of war, captain," was the apology of 
the officer who boarded the S.S. Riberia a couple of 
hundred miles west of Colombo. Another officer 
expressed tke hope that when the Emden was cap- 
tured it would be by a British ship. " But we shall 
run," he declared ; "we are not built for fighting." 
The captain was very sparing of his torpedoes, and 
usually sent his captures to Davy Jones's locker by 
placing mines in them and opening the sea-cocks. 
The treatment was always effective. " The vessel's 

Commerce-destroying on the High Seas 

sides were blown out," says Captain D. Harris of the 
King Lud, whose ship was destroyed by the former 

It must not be inferred that the raider captured 
every ship plying on the trade-route. She missed 
several very rich prizes, including a Brocklebank 
liner. Captain Giacapello, of the Italian steamer 
Loredano, was stopped by the raider, and when 
released he at once warned several ships and trans- 
ports, thus enabling them to escape. For the ser- 
vices thus rendered Captain Giacapello was presented 
with a gold watch and chain by Lord Carmichael, 
Governor of Bengal ; mementoes were also given to 
the officers of his ship, and cash rewards to the crew. 

A remarkable escape was that of the French Messa- 
geries Maritimes steamer Paul Lecat. She received a 
wireless telling her to change her course and steam in 
a given direction so as to avoid meeting the German 
cruiser. Owing to a slight error in the signal the 
captain was suspicious and proceeded on his way. 
Had he heeded the instruction he would have fallen 
into the Emden's trap. 

On or about October 15th H.M.S. Yarmouth, com- 
manded by Captain Henry L. Cochrane, captured 
two of the raider's colliers, the Markomannia and the 
Pontoporos, the former a Hamburg-Amerika liner of 
4,504 tons and the latter a Greek vessel of 4,049 tons, 
off the Sumatra coast, but again the elusive Emden 

Five days later seven more vessels fell into her 
net, including a second steamer of the Clan Line and 
a poor little dredger of 473 tons that was laboriously 
making her way to Tasmania. Three of these prizes 
were brand-new ships, and only two of the seven 


The Story of the British Navy 

were allowed to remain afloat namely, the Exford of 
4,542 tons and the Saint Egbert of 5,596 tons. It was 
a rich haul, particularly as the former was carrying a 
cargo of the best Welsh steam-coal for British war- 
ships, but the victims were destined to be the last 
of the ships flying the red ensign that were to fall 
prey to the Emden. 

Having rigged up the Emden's dummy funnel once 
more, and made one or two other disguises, von 
Miiller prepared for a yet greater effort. He deter- 
mined to make a raid on Penang, one of the colonies 
of the Straits Settlements. This port was used as a 
base by H.M.S. Yarmouth, and although he does not 
appear to have hoped that the Emden would be mis- 
taken for that vessel, the disguise was so clever that 
an observer on the shore candidly admitted that he 
was deceived and thought it was the British cruiser. 
The time chosen by von Miiller was the breaking of 
dawn, when there was just enough light for him to 
see what he was doing and probably insufficient for 
the patrol ships on the watch to distinguish his real 
nationality. Boldness was essential, and that had 
ever been associated with the captain's strategy. 

A Russian cruiser, a small French gunboat, and 
two or three destroyers were lying in the roadstead. 
The Emden managed to get past the patrol boats, 
which took her for a vessel belonging to the Allied 
fleets. The light cruiser, rushing along at great 
speed, approached the Russian Zhemtchug, a third- 
class armoured cruiser of 3,130 tons built at Petrograd 
in 1904 and armed with half a dozen 4*7-inch quick- 
firing guns. According to the scanty official report 
of the Russian Admiralty, which tallies with a log 
kept by one of the German petty officers, the Emden 

Commerce-destroying on the High Seas 

opened fire with a torpedo which exploded near the 
Zhemtchug's bow, and on the latter bringing her guns 
into action a second torpedo sank the ship. An 
engineer on the steamer Nigaristan, which was lying 
in the harbour, positively asserts that two broadsides 
were fired into the cruiser that was taken at such 
grave disadvantage, and that the second broadside 
exploded the magazines. The evidence of another 
witness is to the same effect. The Russian report 
makes no mention of the gunfire of the Emden, 
whereas the German officer says that salvo after salvo 
in all 100 shots were hurled at the vessel, which 
testifies to the terrible pommelling that the Zhemtchug 

On the Emden's return to the open sea the French 
destroyer Mousquet, which was on patrol duty, 
attempted to grapple with her. The Mousquet put up 
a gallant fight, and continued firing until she was 
sunk by the more powerful vessel. A shell that 
exploded on the bridge shot away both legs of 
Captain Therionne, who ordered his men to lash 
him to the deck and continued to command his 
little vessel. Thirty-six survivors were picked up by 
the Emden's boats, but three were so badly wounded 
that they died shortly afterward. Of the 250 officers 
and men saved from the Russian cruiser no fewer than 
112 were wounded, and 85 of the crew perished. 

The chase of the Emden was continued by a second 
destroyer after the sinking of the Mousquet. The light 
cruiser, however, soon outdistanced her pursuer. 

The strain on the nerves of a commander who 
knows that his ship must be destroyed sooner or later, 
that every day may be his last and is certainly 
bringing him appreciably nearer to the inevitable 


The Story of the British Navy 

finish, must be well-nigh intolerable. Yet we find the 
inexhaustible fund of humour bubbling up in Captain 
von Miiller as it did in M. Adolphe Max, the Burgo- 
master of Brussels. For instance, great was the 
surprise of the wireless operator of H.M.S. Yarmouth 
to receive a call from the Emden one night while the 
British cruiser was engaged in escorting a ship from 
Singapore, which is at the extreme end of the Malay 
Peninsula, Penang being on the west coast. " Captain 
von Miiller and the ward-room mess," ticked the 
instrument, " present their compliments, and would 
be obliged if the Yarmouth would let them have the 
result of the inter-regimental Rugby football match." 

As was only to be expected, for Jack Tar keenly 
appreciates a joke, the result was duly sent across 
the intervening waters. Moreover, the message was 
concluded with the intimation that soon British 
sportsmen in the East would have the pleasure of 
the company of the captain of the Emden at all field 
and track events. By this time many stories had 
gathered about Karl von Miiller. One had it that 
he had wirelessed to the pilot brig at the mouth 
of the Hugli that he would be delighted to carry the 
mails ; another told how he had asked the commander 
of a vessel if he had heard anything of the Emden, 
and on being replied to in the negative answered : 
" Well, I am it." 

Shortly after his visit to Penang Captain von 
Miiller, so the tale goes, called at Diego Garcia, one 
of the Chagos Islands and a British possession. Very 
few people live there, the total population numbering 
about 540 people, of whom the odd forty are 
Europeans. Von Miiller had two urgent necessities, 
namely, the taking in of coal and the removal of weeds 

Commerce-destroying on the High Seas 

and barnacles. The Englishman who interrogated the 
captain as to his bona fides was told that the Emden 
was carrying out manoeuvres with the British Navy, 
which was perfectly true up to a certain point. There 
was a display of goodwill on either side, and as no 
one on the island was aware of the outbreak of war, 
no attempt was made to enlighten them. Von Miiller 
merely vouchsafed the information that the Pope 
was dead. As Pius X had breathed his last on the 
20th of the previous August this was not particularly 
up-to-date news. However, it sufficed. When asked 
about British politics von Miiller adopted the official 
attitude by answering courteously but evasively. 

On hearing that the motor-boat of the gentleman 
in question had broken down, the German com- 
mander at once sent a couple of engineers to repair 
it. The natives made his ship almost as bright as a 
new pin, coal was secured, and Captain von Miiller 
showed his gratitude by paying for the labour in- 
volved and saying that he would be delighted to 
forward the delivery of any letters that might be 
entrusted to him. The Englishman then sent on 
board a bottle of wine and a box of cigars, doubtless 
thinking that he was not only giving pleasure to the 
recipient, but aiding the worthy cause of international 
brotherhood. With a farewell salute of her guns the 
Emden went on her way, and a little group of 
Imperialists stood and watched her as she receded in 
the blue distance. 



Rounding up the " Emden " 

Success covert a multitude of blunders. 


A'TER her daring and dramatic coup at Penang, 
involving the loss of two war-vessels, the 
Emden again disappeared for a time. It was 
her last raid and her final victory. British, French, 
Russian, and Japanese cruisers were busy ' sweeping ' 
the sea, an immense area, it is true, but scarcely too 
vast to defeat the methodical plan pursued by the 
combined fleets. It was therefore evident that at 
no very distant date the Emden must be cornered. 
To which navy should fall the honour of ending her 
career would be decided rather by fortune than by 
tactics. As we shall see, the rounding up of the Emden 
was actually achieved when the ' sweeping ' opera- 
tions had been temporarily suspended in order to 
convoy transports. 

" We need patience," wrote a philosophical sailor 
of H.M.S. Hampshire, who had not set foot on land 
for two months after leaving Hakodate, in Japan, 
and had chased " half round Asia " in pursuit of the 
German corsair. The Emden was not to fall to the 
Hampshire. She was, however, within an ace of 
being caught by the Japanese. One night, when 
the Australian and New Zealand contingents were 
only some fifty miles off Cocos Keeling Island, a 

Rounding up the u Emden" 

message was received from our Eastern Allies warning 
the convoy that the enemy was in the vicinity. Every 
member of the Expeditionary Force on the armada 
of transports was ordered to don a lifebelt and line 
up on deck. The boats were swung out on the davits 
for instant service. Ammunition was served out to 
the guard. The cruisers cleared for action, the trans- 
ports were ready with their light artillery to lend a 
hand should opportunity come, and one army officer 
erected a little barricade of sacks of flour and placed 
a Maxim gun behind it. His idea was that if the 
Emden came sufficiently close he might have an oppor- 
tunity of raking the bridge. The lightning which 
flashed across the dark and sullen waters afforded the 
men a momentary gleam, Nature thereby disobeying 
the order of ' Lights out.' Yet it revealed nothing 
but sea and ships their own ships. It was not an 
enviable experience, especially as the troops discarded 
every shred of clothing other than their trousers. 
Not one of them knew whether it would be the solitary 
Emden or von Spec's Pacific Squadron that might 
appear at any minute, but each cordially wished the 
disturbers of their peace at the bottom of the sea. 

While they were standing thus, the silence broken 
only by the monotonous churning of the screws and 
the sough of the sea, the dull roar of a distant gun 
was heard. There suddenly shot out of the darkness 
the still darker forms of three cruisers racing under 
forced draught in the direction from whence the low, 
reverberating boom had come. The tension was 
appalling even to men who knew not fear, for a 
soldier likes to get to grips with his enemy. It lasted 
until the first streaks of dawn stole across the sky. 
Later in the morning it was noised aboard that the 

The Story of the British Navy 

elusive Emden was being chased by the wily Sydney. 
When it was known that the German corsair had at 
last met her doom, a holiday was proclaimed through- 
out the fleet. 

It was then, and not till then, that the full signi- 
ficance of the Australian Navy was realized by those 
on board the transports. A few days later every 
thinking citizen of the British Empire praised the 
foresight of the colonial statesmen who had realized 
the immense importance of Sea-Power to the great 
southern continent. It was only so recently as 1909 
that the Commonwealth had determined to have a 
fleet, which included in August 1914 one large battle- 
cruiser, four light cruisers, six destroyers, and two 
submarines. The wisdom of this decision was demon- 
strated by the splendid part played by these vessels 
in the opening phase of the World War. In addition 
to cornering the Emden, capturing German merchant- 
ships, and assisting in destroying enemy wireless 
stations, the Australian Navy took part in the search 
for von Spec's squadron. 

Other important work was accomplished by the 
capture of various * places in the sun ' on which the 
German Emperor set such store. Following the 
seizure of the island of Nauru, the Australia and the 
Melbourne helped to convoy the New Zealand Expe- 
ditionary Force to Samoa, the lovely group of vol- 
canic islands known as * the gem of the Pacific,' and 
so long a bone of contention between Great Britain, 
Germany, and the United States. Lack of men 
precluding any idea of defence, the enemy sur- 
rendered without bloodshed. The bluejackets landed 
at Apia, the last home of Robert Louis Stevenson, 
on August 30th. On the next day, a little over 

Rounding up the u Emden " 

fourteen years following the hoisting of the German 
colours, the Union Jack waved over the buildings of 
the late Imperial Government. This gave intense 
satisfaction to every son of Britain in the Common- 
wealth, for all were firmly convinced that when the 
Motherland renounced her claim to the islands in 1899 
she committed a grave error of judgment. That 
blunder was now wiped off the slate. 

Attention was next paid to the Bismarck Archi- 
pelago, which has an area of nearly 20,000 square 
miles. The preliminary operations began on Sept- 
ember llth, when a little band of twenty-five men 
set out to destroy a wireless station on the island of 
New Pommern (late New Britain). They were met 
by Germans and natives cleverly hidden in coco-nut 
palm trees, who drove them back, after killing an 
officer of the Army Medical Corps and a naval 
petty officer. A force six times as large was next 
landed near Herbertshohe under Commander J. A. H. 
Beresford. " In proceeding," says the Admiralty 
dispatch, " its progress was stoutly opposed, and the 
party had to fight their way for four miles through 
the bush, the road being in many places mined." 
Half a dozen Germans and a number of natives had 
sought to protect the wireless station by digging them- 
selves in. The colonials advanced without the 
slightest hesitation and charged with great gallantry, 
but it was not until late afternoon that the enemy 

" We found," says Commander Beresford, " that 
Herbertshohe was splendidly prepared for defence. 
They had had two months to get ready, and their 
trenches and defences were in ideal positions. If the 
positions had been reversed, and we had been the 


The Story of the British Navy 

defenders, Herbertshohe would still be fighting. I 
don't think any force in the world could shift British 
defenders from such a position as the German officers 
and native troops had provided. 

" We had taken the first line of trenches and 
advanced upon the second when a flag of truce 
appeared, and a German officer with an orderly came 
up to ask me what terms he could get for surrender. 
The orderly acted as an interpreter. I have since 
found out that the German officer understands 
English as well as I do myself. I had already written 
out the terms unconditional surrender of all forces 
and arms. There was forty minutes' parleying, with 
altogether too much German for me. At last I pulled 
out my watch and gave him five minutes to sign 
' Surrender.' I like that man. He's one of the 
coolest soldiers I've ever met. He talked German to 
his interpreter for exactly four minutes, and then he 
signed ' Surrender.' ' Rabaul, the capital, was occu- 
pied without difficulty, but at Toma, in the moun- 
tains, the Germans did not propose to give in so easily. 
One of the warships therefore shelled the position, in 
much the same way as the British squadron paved 
the way for the landing of troops in Gallipoli. The 
advance of the troops was made under a blazing sun 
which added immeasurably to the difficulties of the 
march, but on storming the trenches it was found 
that the enemy had vacated them. Shortly afterward 
a white flag was shown and the Germans surrendered. 
Before steaming into Rabaul harbour, it was sup- 
posed that four German cruisers were there coaling, 
and the Sydney therefore prepared to dash in under 
cover of night and torpedo them. It was afterward 
ascertained that the ships had left the day before. 

Rounding up the " Emden " 

In the last week of September the town and harbour 
of Friedrich Wilhelm, the seat of government of 
Kaiser Wilhelm' s Land, German New Guinea, was 

Again the apparently endless search of the vast 
Pacific was recommenced. Sometimes suspicious- 
looking smoke would be seen on the horizon, but 
never a sign of the quarry, and occasionally the 
wireless would catch German messages. After running 
many thousands of miles, the Australian fleet was 
ordered south to take part in the task of convoying 
the patriotic colonists who had so wholeheartedly 
rallied to the Empire's call. Perhaps the activities of 
the fleet will be better appreciated by the reader when 
he is told that after four months' work the men were 
given four hours' leave. 

At this point we again come in touch with the 
Emden, one of whose officers subsequently stated that 
no one on board had the least idea that transports 
were in the vicinity, so well had the authorities 
guarded the secret of their movements. First of all 
let us read the official report of Captain John C. T. 
Glossop, of H.M.A.S. Sydney, who was well acquainted 
with southern waters. As a midshipman he had ex- 
perienced the terrible hurricane at Apia in 1889, and 
played his part in the splendid seamanship which 
enabled H.M.S. Calliope to escape from the harbour 
and ride the gale in the open sea. The Sydney, it 
should be noted, is a light cruiser of 5,400 tons, with 
a speed of 25*5 knots, an armament of eight 6-inch 
guns, four 3-pdr. quick-firing guns, and two submerged 
torpedo-tubes. She was completed at Birkenhead in 

"1. Whilst on escort duty with the convoy under 


The Story of the British Navy 

the charge of Captain Silver, H.M.A.S. Melbourne, 
at 6.30 a.m. on Monday, 9th November," says 
Captain Glossop, " a wireless message from Cocos 
was heard reporting that a foreign warship was off 
the entrance. I was ordered to raise steam for full 
speed at 7.0 a.m., and proceed thither. I worked 
up to 20 knots, and at 9.15 a.m. sighted land ahead 
and almost immediately the smoke of a ship which 
proved to be H.I.G.M.S. Emden coming out toward 
me at a great rate. At 9.40 a.m. fire was opened, 
she firing the first shot. I kept my distance as much 
as possible to obtain the advantage of my guns. Her 
fire was very accurate and rapid to begin with, but 
seemed to slacken very quickly, all casualties occur- 
ring in this ship almost immediately. First the fore- 
most funnel of her went, secondly the foremast, and 
she was badly on fire aft, then the second funnel went, 
and lastly the third funnel, and I saw she was making 
for the beach on North Keeling Island, where she 
grounded at 11.20 a.m. I gave her two more broad- 
sides and left her to pursue a merchant-ship which had 
come up during the action. 

" 2. Although I had guns on this merchant - ship 
at odd times during the action, I had not fired, and 
as she was making off fast I pursued and overtook 
her at 12.10, firing a gun across her bows, and hoisting 
International Code Signal to stop, which she did. I 
sent an armed boat and found her to be the S.S. 
Buresk, a captured British collier with 18 Chinese 
crew, 1 English steward, 1 Norwegian cook, and a 
German prize crew of 3 officers, 1 warrant officer, 
and 12 men. The ship unfortunately was sinking, 
the Kingston valve knocked out and damaged to 
prevent repairing, so I took all on board, fired four 

Rounding up the " Emden " 

shells into her, and returned to the Emden, passing 
men swimming in the water, for whom I left two boats 
I was towing from the Buresk. 

" 3. On arriving again off the Emden she still had 
her colours up at mainmast head. I inquired by 
signal, International Code, * Will you surrender ? ' 
and received a reply in Morse ' What signal ? No 
signal books.' I then made in Morse ' Do you sur- 
render ? ' and subsequently ' Have you received my 
signal ? ' to neither of which did I get an answer. 
The German officers on board gave me to understand 
that the captain would never surrender, and therefore, 
though very reluctantly, I again fired at her at 4.30 
p.m., ceasing at 4.35, as she showed white flags and 
hauled down her ensign by sending a man aloft. 

" 4. I then left the Emden and returned and picked 
up the Buresk's two boats, rescuing two sailors (5.0 
p.m.) who had been in the water all day. I returned 
and sent in one boat to the Emden, manned by her 
own prize crew from the Buresk, and one officer, and 
stating I would return to their assistance next morning. 

" 5. I lay on and off all night and communicated 
with Direction Island at 8.0 a.m., 10th November, 
to find that the Emden's party, consisting of 3 officers 
and 40 men, one launch and two cutters, had seized and 
provisioned a 70 tons schooner (the Ayesha), having 
four Maxims with two belts to each. They left the 
previous night at six o'clock. The wireless station 
was entirely destroyed, one cable cut, one damaged, 
and one intact. I borrowed a doctor and two assis- 
tants, and proceeded as fast as possible to the Emden 's 

" 6. I sent an officer on board to see the captain, 
and in view of the large number of prisoners and 


The Story of the British Navy 

wounded and lack of accommodation, etc., in this 
ship, and the absolute impossibility of leaving them 
where they were, he agreed that if I received his 
officers and men and all wounded ' then as for such 
time as they remained in the Sydney they would cause 
no interference with ship or fittings, and would be 
amenable to the ship's discipline.' I therefore set to 
work at once to tranship them a most difficult 
operation, the ships being on weather side of island 
and the send alongside very heavy. The conditions 
in the Emden were indescribable. I received the last 
from her at 5.6. p.m., then had to go round to the 
leeside to pick up 20 more men who had managed 
to get ashore from the ship. 

" 7. Darkness came on before this could be accom- 
plished, and the ship again stood off and on all night, 
renewing operations at 5 a.m. on llth November, 
a cutter's crew having to land with stretchers to bring 
wounded round to embarking point. A German 
officer, a doctor, died ashore the previous day. The 
ship in the meantime ran over to Direction Island to 
return their doctor and assistants, send cables, and 
was back again at 10 a.m., embarked the remainder 
of wounded, and proceeded for Colombo by 10.35 a.m., 
Wednesday, llth November. 

" 8. Total casualties in the Sydney : Killed, 3 ; 
severely wounded (since dead) 1 ; severely wounded, 
4 ; wounded, 4 ; slightly wounded, 4. In the Emden 
I can only approximately state the killed at 7 officers 
and 108 men from captain's statement. I had on 
board 11 officers, 9 warrant officers, and 191 men, of 
whom 3 officers and 53 men were wounded, and of this 
number 1 officer and 3 men have since died of wounds. 

" 9. The damage to the Sydney's hull and fittings 

Rounding up the " Emden" 

was surprisingly small ; in all about ten hits seem to 
have been made. The engine and boiler rooms and 
funnels escaped entirely. 

" 10. I have great pleasure in stating that the 
behaviour of the ship's company was excellent in every 
way, and with such a large proportion of young hands 
and people under training it is all the more gratifying." 

An official document does not give much scope 
for romance, but there is plenty in connexion with 
the destruction of the Emden. Captain Glossop, for 
instance, makes no reference in his dispatch, as pub- 
lished, to the splendid work of the cable operators of 
the Eastern Telegraph Company at Singapore and on 
Cocos Island. 

Early on the morning of November 9th the operator 
at Singapore was in communication with Cocos Island. 
Everything was working well, when the dull mono- 
tony of gathering more or less uninteresting informa- 
tion was broken by the receipt of a sentence of half 
a dozen words that were destined to have far-reaching 
consequences. The message ran : " Emden at Cocos 
landing armed party." Then the instrument was 
silent, and although the operator at Singapore en- 
deavoured to get more news there was no response. 
Evidently there was a ' break,' or the cable had been 
cut, or something tragic had happened to the man 
at the other end. An old mirror instrument was set 
working some hours later, and brought a reply from 
the island. Then the dread secret of the silence was 
revealed. " Been unable to communicate. Every- 
thing smashed. No light. Will get an instrument 
up at daylight. Report us all well. Emden engaged 
by British cruiser. Result unknown. Landing party 
commandeered schooner Ayesha. Good-night." 


The Story of the British Navy 

When the Emden was sighted off the island the 
telegraph staff at once suspected a visit from the 
celebrated corsair, of which they had heard a great 
deal but had never seen. The dummy funnel which 
had been so exceedingly useful proved to be her un- 
doing. Somehow or other on this particular occasion 
it did not look the part. It appeared to be rather a 
product of the carpenter's craft than of the engineer's 
skill. More significant still, no ensign was visible. 
With praiseworthy promptitude one of the assistants at 
once sent by wireless a signal of distress and brief par- 
ticulars of the case in the hope that a naval ship might 
pick it up, while another man dispatched the message 
given above to Singapore. A launch armed with four 
Maxim guns, and accompanied by two boats, having on 
board three officers and forty men of the Emden, 
shortly afterward reached the beach, but before they 
destroyed the instruments and wrecked the wireless 
installation H.M.S. Minotaur had received the mar- 
conigram. The Melbourne also appears to have picked 
it up, and the captain detached the Sydney, which 
was a faster ship, to secure the coveted prize. This 
was a noble thing to do, for Captain Silver would have 
been quite within his province had he proceeded in 
the Melbourne and brought von Muller to action. 

No sooner had the landing party under the com- 
mand of Captain-Lieutenant von Miicke secured the 
knives and fire-arms of the staff and finished their 
destructive work than the cruiser Sydney was seen 
approaching, and the Emden got under way to meet 
her. It became a case of sauve qui pent so far as the 
Germans on the island were concerned. Within easy 
distance of the shore was the schooner Ayesha, the 
property of Mr Clunies-Ross, the owner of the islands. 

Rounding up the " Emden" 

They rowed out to her, asked a few questions of the 
captain, ascertained what there was on board, and 
returned to shore. A little later they boarded the 
ship for a second time, and politely informed the 
crew that they had twenty minutes to pack up their 
belongings and leave. Labouring under the erroneous 
idea that sailors of the British Mercantile Marine 
wore white clothes, all articles answering to that 
description were commandeered, likewise the navi- 
gating gear and other nautical articles likely to be 
of service to them in their endeavour to escape. The 
crew had no alternative but to obey without un- 
necessary delay. One cannot argue with a bayonet. 
They were escorted back to the island and made 
prisoners of war, together with the telegraph staff. 
Then all were marched to a boat-shed and placed 
under guard, while the remainder of the Germans 
rifled the stores and generally prepared for their forth- 
coming voyage. In addition to food and water they 
helped themselves to various articles, including pistols 
and cartridges, cutlery, watches, knives, razors, to- 
bacco, clothes, prism - glasses, cigarette - cases, and a 
camera, the total value being estimated at over 160. 
A pirates' haul in very truth ! 

Having made all snug on board the Ayesha, the 
Germans remained in possession of the island until 
it was conclusively proved to them that the Emden 
was getting decidedly the worst of her encounter 
with the Australian cruiser. In the gathering dusk 
they hoisted sail, fervently hoping that under cover 
of night they would be able to steal away without 
attracting the attention of too-vigilant officers of any 
British man-of-war that might be in the vicinity. 

When the prisoners in the boat-house broke out of 


The Story of the British Navy 

their gaol they tore down the German ensign that 
fluttered above them and congratulated themselves 
on the knowledge that the little schooner was in a 
very leaky condition and both her pumps were out of 
order. The crew of forty-three managed to patch her 
up, for on the 28th of the following month it was 
reported that she visited Padang, a port on the south- 
west coast of Sumatra, and obtained further supplies 
by raiding the stores of a Dutch telegraph station. 
Eventually the Captain-Lieutenant and his little band 
made their way to the Red Sea port of Hodeideh, 
where they discarded the Ayesha. After a terrible 
march across country and conflicts with unfriendly 
Arabs, as a result of which they suffered several 
casualties, the little band arrived at Jeddah, where 
the wounded were placed in hospital. In due course 
they reached Bagdad, and got on to the Anatolian 
Railway and so to Haidar Pasha, whence they were 
conveyed by a destroyer to Seraglio Point. Their 
appearance at Constantinople naturally aroused con- 
siderable enthusiasm among the Turks ; we hear of 
them parading through the streets with a guard of 
honour, and then lose sight of them on board a 
German steamer, where they took up their quarters. 

As soon as the Emden got under way she opened 
fire at the Sydney and steamed north at top speed. 
Her shooting, as Captain Glossop avers, was " very 
accurate," a statement borne out by an eyewitness 
on land. The first shell to strike the Sydney pene- 
trated the deck before exploding, wounding several of 
the crew. The Emden also had the good fortune to 
put her opponent's main range-finder out of action and 
to damage the after fire-control station, wounding all 
the men there. Very few of the Emden's shells did 

Rounding up the " Emden" 

serious damage, although one exploded in the boys' 
mess, but any danger of fire was removed by the 
water thrown up by the bow, which poured through 
the shot-hole and soon flooded that portion of the 

Meanwhile the gun-layers of the Sydney had got to 
work. " About the third salvo of our chaps," says 
an engine-room artificer of the Australian cruiser, 
" brought down one of the funnels of the Emden, 
and tore away all the after part of her deck, and, 
luckily for us, flooded the submarine flat where her 
torpedoes were kept. We were engaged hot and 
strong about two hours, and the greatest credit is due 
to our skipper, who manoeuvred the ship splendidly. 
We were steaming about 27 knots, and it was not 
long before we silenced the Emden's guns one by one 
until there was but one left. But her crew were very 
game, and used that one until all her ammunition 
was gone and she started to sink, so the only hope 
they had was to run her aground on the island." 

Von Miiller, in his account of the battle, states 
that at first " our marksmanship was good, but soon 
the heavy British guns gained the upper hand, 
inflicting heavy losses among our gunners. As we 
were short of ammunition," he adds, " we were 
obliged to cease firing." The real truth of the 
matter is that they were short of guns ; for several 
had been put out of action. By skilfully manoeuvring 
his vessel so as to keep out of the Emden s range, in 
the performance of which he covered a distance of 
nearly sixty miles, Captain Glossop used his superior 
weight of metal, his longer range, and his speed to 
the greatest possible advantage. Von Miiller at- 
tempted to get sufficiently close to use his torpedoes, 


The Story of the British Navy 

but was foiled. The Sydney's broadside of 500 Ib. 
crashed into the corsair again and again, until she 
was forced to run ashore to prevent going down with 
all hands. It has been stated that she took the ground 
when steaming at 19 knots, and that the jar was so 
terrific that the man at the wheel was killed instantly 
by being flung against it. 

According to an officer on the Sydney, whose 
account of the action appeared in The Times, the 
hottest part of the battle for those on the Australian 
cruiser was the first thirty minutes. The first shot 
to do serious damage struck the vessel close to No. 2 
starboard gun, knocking out " practically the whole 
of that gun's crew." Then a cordite fire started, but 
was fortunately got under by the hose that is always 
in evidence when a ship is in action. " Our hits were 
not very serious," the officer says. " We were 
* hulled ' in about three places. The shell that 
exploded in the boys' mess - deck, apart from ruining 
the poor little beggars' clothes, provided a magnifi- 
cent stock of trophies. For two or three days they 
kept finding fresh pieces. The only important damage 
was the after control-platform, which is one mass of 
gaping holes and tangled iron, and the foremost range- 
finder shot away. Other hits, though ' interesting, 
don't signify.' " 

Perhaps the most entertaining part of the same 
breezy letter is that dealing with the Emden as they 
found her on the following day, November 10th. 
" At 11.10 a.m.," we read, " we arrived off the Emden 
again. I was sent over to her in one of the cutters. 
Luckily her stern was sticking out beyond where the 
surf broke, so that with a rope from the stern of the 
ship one could ride close under one quarter, with the 

Rounding up the " Emden " 

boat's bow to seaward. The rollers were very big, 
and the surging to and fro and so on made getting 
aboard fairly difficult. However, the Germans stand- 
ing aft gave me a hand up, and I was received by the 
captain of the Emden. I told him from our captain 
that if he would give his parole the captain was pre- 
pared to take all his crew on board the Sydney and 
take them straight up to Colombo. He stuck a little 
over the word ' parole,' but readily agreed when I 
explained the exact scope of it. And now came the 
dreadful job of getting the badly wounded into the 
boats. There were 15 of these. . . . The Germans 
were all suffering badly from thirst, so we hauled the 
boats' water - casks up on deck, and they eagerly 
broached them, giving the wounded some first. 

" I took an early opportunity of saluting the captain 
of the Emden and saying, ' You fought very well, sir.' 
He seemed taken aback, and said, ' No.' I went 
away, but presently he came up to me and said, 
' Thank you very much for saying that, but I was 
not satisfied. We should have done better. You 
were very lucky in shooting away all my voice-pipes 
at the beginning.' 

" When I got a chance, with all the boats away, 
I went to have a look round the ship. I have no 
intention of describing what I saw. With the excep- 
tion of the forecastle, which is hardly touched from 
fore-bridge to stern post, she is nothing but a shambles, 
and the whole thing was most shocking." 

In Germany the destruction of the corsair had a 
particularly depressing effect, not only because of the 
loss of the vessel, but because the trade of their hated 
rival in Indian waters could no longer be harassed. 



Fighting Land-battles at Sea 

1 am of opinion the boldest measures are the safest. 


THE attempted forcing of the Dardanelles was 
the one definitely offensive campaign under- 
taken by Great Britain and France in Europe 
in 1914-15. It opened with a brilliant but unsuccessful 
attempt by the Navy and ended in a dual failure on 
the part of the Navy and the Army. 

The beginning of the operations was not quite fair 
to the senior service, although it must be admitted 
that Admiral Garden, commander-in-chief in the Medi- 
terranean, was of opinion that the fortifications of 
the Dardanelles could be reduced by a regular and 
sustained naval bombardment. This belief was up- 
held by various British and French experts, including 
the war staff of the Admiralty, but excluding Lord 

The die was cast. Only 163 miles separated the 
entrance of the Dardanelles from the Golden Horn. 
Unfortunately they were not ordinary miles. They 
teemed with formidable difficulties. Land fortifi- 
cations, mines, floating torpedoes, submarines, those 
will-o'-the-wisps the Goeben and the Breslau, plus 
the obsolete Turkish Navy each and all would be 
used against the Armada. The Navy knew of these 
things. The Turks, stiffened by German officers, 

Fighting Land-battles at Sea 

German ideas, German organization, also had surprises 
in store. People at home, ignorant of the hazardous 
character of the adventure, fondly imagined that the 
naval key could speedily unlock the rather rusty water- 
gates of the Near East. 

The escape of the Goeben and the Breslau was not 
merely an incident. It was a disaster. A few hours 
before the outbreak of hostilities between Great 
Britain and Germany the Mediterranean Fleet came 
across these German ships in that great inland sea 
that washes the northern coast of Africa. It had 
them at its mercy, but war had not been declared. 
Diplomacy is cordially hated in the Navy, which 
prefers deeds to words and shells to syllables. Appar- 
ently the German captains had been warned, for no 
sooner did they sight the British than they steamed 
eastward at full speed. Early in the morning of 
August 4, 1914, the Breslau, a light cruiser of 4,478 
tons, mounting a dozen 4'1-inch guns, was firing 
broadsides at the Algerian town of Bona, a fortified 
seaport and naval base, while the Goeben was bom- 
barding Philippeville. The latter, one of the most 
powerful battle-cruisers afloat, and the fastest vessel 
in the German Navy, accompanied by her satellite, 
was next heard of as having been driven into the 
Sicilian port of Messina after an exciting chase. On 
the 6th, anxious to escape disarmament and intern- 
ment by staying in a neutral harbour longer than 
twenty-four hours, they departed, their decks cleared 
for action, with the Anglo-French squadron supposed 
to be awaiting them in the Straits outside the three- 
mile limit, the British at the south, the French at the 
north. With their bands playing Die Wacht am Rhein, 
the ships steamed off in a southerly direction, the giant 


The Story of the British Navy 

Dreadnought bristling with ten 11 -inch and twelve 
6-inch guns. 

The Mediterranean mystery deepened with the 
passing of the hours. At last the Press Bureau 
announced, on the authority of the Admiralty, that 
" There are strong reasons for believing that the 
Goeben and the Breslau have taken refuge in the 
Dardanelles, where they will be .dealt with according 
to international law. With the dismantling and 
internment of these ships the safety of trade will 
have been almost entirely secured." 

The unexpected had happened, but what was sur- 
mized as the sequel to the escape of the ships to 
Turkish waters on August 10th did not materialize. 
There was a make-believe sale of them to the Otto- 
man Government. With refreshing humour the 
Goeben became the Sultan Yawuz Selim (Sultan Selim 
the Grim) and the Breslau the Midillu (Mitylene). 
The presumed end of the career of the cruisers proved 
to be the beginning. No blame whatever is attached 
to the British Admiralty for the intelligence conveyed 
to the public. The Treaty of Berlin (1878) precluded 
Germany from sending her ships through the Darda- 
nelles, and it was believed that the Sublime Porte 
would deal with the refugees according to inter- 
national law. In charge of the Turkish Navy was a 
British officer, Rear-Admiral Arthur H. Limpus. On 
August 15th he was relieved of his command. The 
pressure in the Mediterranean, momentarily relieved 
by the exit of the German men-of-war, was increased 
shortly afterward by deliberate acts of hostility, in- 
cluding the bombardment of Sebastopol on November 
1st. The British Ambassador left Constantinople on 
the evening of that day. Ever since the arrival of the 

Fighting Land-battles at Sea 

Goeben and the Breslau the Turkish Government had 
made repeated assurances of their strictest neutrality. 
They were lying to gain time. In this they did not 
break with tradition. Had Turkey refrained from 
entering the conflict there would have been no 
Dardanelles gamble. 

Rear-Admiral E. C. T. Troubridge, commander of 
the First Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean, 
returned to England " in order that an inquiry may 
be held into the circumstances leading to the escape 
of the Goeben and the Breslau from Messina Straits." 
The court fully and honourably acquitted the bearer 
of a name first made known to fame by Admiral Sir 
Thomas Troubridge, that splendid fighter in the battles 
of the Nile and of St Vincent. Subsequently a party 
of bluejackets with Rear- Admiral E. C. T. Troubridge 
in command played a splendid part in the defence of 
Serbia. The Board of Admiralty approved " in all 
respects " the measures taken by Admiral Sir Berkeley 
Milne, commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean, but 
he shortly afterward returned home and was succeeded 
by Vice-Admiral Sackville H. Garden, an energetic 
Irishman who had served in the Egyptian War of 
1882, fought at Suakin in 1884, and taken part in the 
Benin expedition of 1897. 

One stirring episode relieves this drab story of ill 
fortune. There happened to be in the Mediterranean 
a trim little British light cruiser named the Gloucester. 
She is a sister ship of the Bristol and the Glasgow. 
On the night of August 6th she came up with the 
Breslau and the Goeben in or near the Straits of 
Messina, the former trying by various artful man- 
oeuvres to entice the Gloucester away so that her 
larger consort might escape. Captain W. A. H. Kelly, 


The Story of the British Navy 

aided by the moonlight, kept both ships under strict 
observation and refused to be shaken off. He followed 
them all night and the following day. According to 
one account the British opened fire at about 2 p.m. 
The fore 6-inch gun of the Gloucester barked out, and 
fell short. The shot was returned with interest by the 
Breslau, which fired a broadside that whizzed over- 
head and flung up mountains of water. Before placing 
the next shell in position one of the gun-layers on the 
Gloucester spat on it for luck, a fond superstition in 
the Navy which worked well in this particular case, 
for it damaged one of the Breslau's funnels a few 
seconds later. With amazing dexterity the captain 
dodged all the enemy's shots, though two of the boats 
were shattered. Had the battle-cruiser turned upon 
the Gloucester it would have meant annihilation for 
the light cruiser, but she did not, probably because 
Captain Kelly gave her the impression that support 
was near at hand. He was certainly endeavouring 
to lead the enemy in the direction of the main squad- 
ron. The commander of the Goeben, however, was too 
wary to be enticed into a skilfully laid trap. As 
for the Gloucester, she hung on until she was either 
recalled or outdistanced. For this valiant service 
Captain Kelly was gazetted C.B. " The combination 
of audacity with restraint," runs the official record, 
" unswerving attention to the principal military ob- 
ject namely, the holding on to the Goeben without 
tempting her too much and strict conformity to 
orders constitutes a naval episode which may justly 
be regarded as a model." The audacity of the British 
commander can be appreciated by comparing the broad- 
side fire of the three vessels. That of the Gloucester 
was 855 lb., of the two Germans 8,500 Ib. ! 

Fighting Land-battles at Sea 

At daybreak on November 3rd the bombardment 
of the Dardanelles began. A combined British and 
French squadron shelled some of the forts at the 
entrance at a range of between six and seven miles. 
The forts replied with their 9 '2 Krupp guns and a 
few of larger calibre. No ships were hit, a solitary 
projectile alone falling in dangerous proximity to 
the floating targets, and there were no casualties. 
A gunnery-lieutenant in the fore-top of one of the 
British ships had just begun to enjoy a cigarette, and 
was remarking to a comrade, " Well, that's all over," 
when a shell came flying across their line of sight, 
striking the water only about twenty yards off. The 
fort at Cape Helles, at the toe of the peninsula, was 
apparently damaged, for dense volumes of black 
smoke, lighted up by a column of flame, were ob- 
served to issue from it, followed by a dull roar which 
probably indicated the blowing up of the magazine. 
This preliminary skirmish was a kind of test case. 
The judge reserved his verdict. 

On February 19, 1915, exactly one hundred and 
eight years after Duckworth's passage of the Darda- 
nelles, a much more serious attempt was made to 
reduce the outer forts at Cape Helles and Seddel 
Bahr, on the European side of the Straits, and of 
Kum Kale on the Asiatic side. Seddel Bahr and Kum 
Kale are almost opposite, and command the entrance, 
which is two and a quarter miles wide. The fleet 
included a battle-cruiser, the Inflexible, recently re- 
turned from the battle off the Falkland Islands, the 
British pre-Dreadnought battleships Vengeance, Corn- 
wallls, Triumph, and Agamemnon, commissioned be- 
tween 1898 and 1904, the almost obsolete French 
battleships Gaulois, Suffren, and Bouvet, commanded 


The Story of the British Navy 

by Rear-Admiral Guepratte, accompanied by de- 
stroyers. There was also present the new seaplane- 
carrier and repair-ship, the Ark Royal, a name borne 
by Howard of Effingham's flagship in the stormy days 
of 1588. The fleet was capable of bearing no fewer 
than thirty-six big guns of from 12-inch to 10-inch 
calibre on the forts. After shelling at long range with 
apparently good effect for over six hours, the firing 
in some cases being directed by an observation-ship 
because it was not possible for all the vessels to see 
their targets, a change was made in the disposition 
of the fleet. The older vessels were ordered to move 
nearer inshore. This enabled their secondary arma- 
ment, totalling sixty-six guns, varying from 7 '5-inch 
to 5*5-inch, to be brought into service. The burden 
of the fight, hitherto entirely one-sided, because the 
Turks had either not been able to reply or had been 
saving their ammunition for use at closer quarters, 
was now to be sustained by these half-dozen ships, 
supported by the long-range fire of the Inflexible and 
the Agamemnon. As the squadron drew closer the 
guns of the forts suddenly blazed out, which was suffi- 
cient proof that whatever destruction had been wrought 
by the previous bombardment was not vital. 

When the bugles sounded " Cease fire ! " the strong- 
holds on the European side had lapsed into silence, 
while Kum Kale still spluttered at intervals. The 
success of the operation was afterward discovered to 
be very slight. A Turkish official communique naively 
admitted that " one soldier was slightly wounded by 
stone splinters," and added the intelligence that 
" three hostile armoured ships were damaged, one 
flagship heavily." As a matter of fact none of the 
Anglo-French vessels was hit. 

Fighting Land-battles at Sea 

Operations had to be suspended for a time owing 
to furious gales. They were resumed on the 25th, 
when hydroplanes assisted in the task of range-finding 
and noted the effect of the firing. The oil-driven 
super-Dreadnought, the Queen Elizabeth, then the 
mightiest battleship afloat, made her first essay in 
warfare. The Irresistible, a sister ship of the ill-fated 
Bulwark, which had been blown up at Sheerness in 
the last week of the previous November, and of the 
Formidable, torpedoed in the English Channel, also 
took part. These vessels, with the Agamemnon and 
the Gaulois, started pommelling the outer forts, now 
repaired to some extent, at long range. The eight 
15-inch guns of the Queen Elizabeth fired broadside 
after broadside at the fort on Cape Helles, each shell 
weighing approximately a ton. Some of the breezy 
boys call them ' Lizzie's Headache Pills.' This 
terrific onslaught, carried on well out of range of 
the forts, was ineffectively replied to by two 9'2-inch 
guns, the heaviest which the land-battery boasted. 
The Agamemnon attacked Seddel Bahr, and was hit 
at 11,000 yards, three men being killed and five 
seriously wounded. On the Asiatic side the Gaulois 
confined her attentions to Kum Kale, and the 
Irresistible to Orkhanieh, about a mile south of the 

Half an hour before noon the Vengeance and the 
Cornwallis, covered by long-range fire, ran in and 
engaged Cape Helles, whose big guns had now been 
put out of action, and completely silenced it. The 
Suffren and the Charlemagne also made a determined 
attempt on the two forts on the opposite side of the 
Straits, boldly advancing to within 2,000 yards of 
them, and pouring in a rain of shells that brought 


The Story of the British Navy 

a feeble and half-hearted reply. The Vengeance, 
Triumph, and Albion were then ordered to complete 
their reduction. This was successfully accomplished 
toward the close of the day. 

Taking advantage of the remaining light the mine- 
sweepers got to work, and under cover of the Fleet 
began clearing the entrance of the Straits. On the 
following day four miles had been rendered navigable, 
enabling three battleships to enter and attack Fort 
Dardanus, overlooking Kephez Bay, on the coast of 
Asia Minor. The four 5'9-inch guns made poor prac- 
tice, but a surprise came in the form of some new 
batteries which had been erected. Landing parties 
then set off from the Vengeance and the Irresistible, 
completely demolished the forts of Cape Helles, Seddel 
Bahr, and Orkhanieh, and partially destroyed that of 
Kum Kale. The garrison of the last-mentioned strong- 
hold was driven post-haste across the bridge spanning 
the river Mendere, which was afterward rendered 
useless. Two new 4-inch guns, discovered skilfully 
concealed in the neighbouring village, and four Nor- 
denfeldts guarding the entrance were made incapable 
of further service. Unfortunately a body of Turkish 
troops hiding in the cemetery and elsewhere began 
sniping the Marines, and they were recalled, with the 
loss of one killed and three wounded. 

Operations were again delayed by wind, rain, and 
fog, rendering long-range fire and aerial observation 
practically useless. They were resumed on the 1st of 
March, when three battleships entered the Straits and 
attacked the fort and batteries at Kephez Point, on 
the Asiatic side. Another surprise awaited the sea-dogs, 
for howitzers and field-guns assisted in the defence. 
Moreover, seaplanes found out that several new gun 

Fighting Land-battles at Sea 

positions had been prepared. Two shells landed on 
the quarterdeck of the Triumph, one fell near the 
gun-room, and another reduced the furniture in the 
captain's cabin to firewood. The French, stationing 
their ships in the Gulf of Saros, operated off Bulair, 
bombarding the batteries and the lines of communi- 
cation. At night the scavengers recommenced their 
highly dangerous work under fire. On the 2nd the 
Canopus, the Swiftsure, and the Cornwallis attacked 
two other forts, one of which was so damaged that 
eventually it ceased to offer further resistance. This 
time all the ships were hit. The mine-sweepers con- 
tinued their operations when their big brothers of the 
Navy had finished, going about their business with as 
little apparent anxiety as they manifest when trawling 
in the North Sea, and gradually creeping nearer and 
nearer to the Narrows, where formidable problems 
awaited solution. 

Additions made to the Allied armada showed that 
the naval authorities of both countries appreciated 
the strength of the positions that guarded the sea- 
route to Constantinople, but the fact that on the 
4th it was again found necessary to send landing 
parties, covered by detachments of the Marine Brigade 
of the Royal Naval Division, to continue the clearance 
of the ground at the entrance to the Straits indicated 
that military operations would become absolutely in- 
dispensable in the near future. Indeed, the French 
Ministry of War had already decided to concentrate 
an expeditionary force in Northern Africa " ready to 
embark the moment the signal is given." The pity 
of it was that the campaign had been started without 
assistance on land. Every day that passed made it 
evident that the Turks and their friends were gaining 


The Story of the British Navy 

strength. In the neighbourhood of Seddel Bahr more 
concealed guns were destroyed, but at Kum Kale the 
landing was repulsed, with nineteen killed, three miss- 
ing, and twenty-five wounded. " The net result of 
these operations against the outer works," writes 
Sir E. Ashmead-Bartlett, with the authority of one 
who has studied the situation on the spot, " was to 
prove this : that although these reinforced earthworks 
might be smothered by shell-fire and the gunners 
driven to their bomb-proofs, under highly favourable 
conditions, yet the actual material damage inflicted 
by ships' shell was relatively unimportant, unless a 
direct hit was scored on the gun. Thus up to this 
point there was nothing to encourage great hope for 
the future." 

On the 5th an attack on three of the European 
defences of the Narrows, forts Rumilieh Medjidieh 
Tabia, Hamidieh II Tabia, and Namazieh, was begun 
by indirect fire from the Queen Elizabeth, supported 
by the Inflexible and the Prince George. All the forts 
sustained damage, and the magazine at Fort Hamidieh 
II Tabia blew up, depriving its two 14-inch guns of 
ammunition. A military station was destroyed by 
the Sapphire, which also fired on troops in the neigh- 
bourhood of the Gulf of Adramyti. The day was 
especially noteworthy as marking the first attempt to 
reduce the defences of Smyrna, the chief town on the 
coast of Asia Minor, by Vice-Admiral Sir Richard 

Two more strongholds were attacked by the mam- 
moth battle-cruiser, supported by the Agamemnon 
and the Ocean, on the following day. They flung 
their shells for twelve miles across the peninsula, 
stationing themselves in the Gulf of Saros and bom- 

Fighting Land-battles at Sea 

barding with remorseless fury forts Hamidieh I Tabia 
and Hamidieh III, in the vicinity of Chanak, on the 
Asiatic shore. While this method of attack, directed 
by airmen, precluded the possibility of a return fire 
from the forts, howitzers and field-guns were not long 
in getting to work on the European side. Three 
shells struck the Queen Elizabeth, fortunately without 
causing damage of any importance. Five ships inside 
the Straits met with a particularly warm reception 
from the Suandere and Mount Dardanos batteries, and 
Fort Rumilieh Medjidieh Tabia again opened fire. 
Nearly all the vessels were hit. The Mount Dardanos 
batteries were bombarded by four French battleships 
on the 7th and silenced, while the Agamemnon and the 
Lord Nelson pounded forts Rumilieh Medjidieh Tabia 
and Hamidieh I Tabia, the strongholds already at- 
tacked by the Queen Elizabeth and her consorts, until 
they ceased to reply. It was warm work, for when 
the Suffren penetrated to the extreme limit of the 
minefield a splinter from a bursting shell fell at the 
French admiral's feet. During these assaults and 
operations the seaplanes were invariably in evidence, 
and rendered conspicuous service. On the 7th the 
Russian Fleet bombarded several places not far from 
the Bosporus, endeavouring to unlock the other gate 
that led to the desired haven. 

When daylight reappeared the Queen Elizabeth and 
four battleships entered the Dardanelles, this being 
the first time that the super-Dreadnought had come 
within range of the land-batteries, and took up the 
task of reducing Fort Rumilieh Medjidieh Tabia, but 
they were hampered by unfavourable weather. Mist, 
wind, and high seas played into the hands of the Turks 
all too often in the first phase of the Dardanelles 


The Story of the British Navy 

campaign, enabling them to patch up damaged fortifica- 
tions and bring up new guns, supplies of ammunition, 
and reinforcements. 

On the night of the 13th the light cruiser Amethyst, 
while attending the mine-sweepers in Sari Siglar Bay, 
was subjected to a terrific cannonade at close range. 
One of the trawlers was sunk. Things had gone so 
well in the early part of that night. There had been 
no inquisitive searchlights from the shore, no booming 
of guns, nothing to betray the presence of the enemy. 
Fortunately the Navy does not nurse its grievances ; 
it weans them. The worst was vet to come. 



The Shambles of Gallipoli 

Recollect that a brave man dies but once, a coward all his life 
long. NELSON 

FOUR months had come and gone since the 
beginning of the great adventure, and all the 
4 heavy fathers ' of the Fleet remained in their 
normal health. Some of them were bruised, but 
bruises do not count on active service. On March 
18, 1915, there was a triple tragedy. Three battle- 
ships fought their last fight, and were 4 buried at sea,' 
after the manner of sailors from time immemorial. 
They received their death-blow during a general 
attack upon the fortresses at the Narrows, and in 
each case it was struck from below. The Irresistible, 
the Ocean, and the Bouvet died of mine-fever. That 
day the scavengers fished up three mines, and these 
veterans of the Fleet fished up three others to their 

The disaster came about in this way. The 
sweepers had been at work for ten days to clear a 
passage, and we may be perfectly sure that Vice- 
Admiral J. M. de Robeck was satisfied with the result 
of their operations, otherwise the Queen Elizabeth, the 
Inflexible, the Agamemnon, and the Lord Nelson would 
never have been allowed to proceed toward the 
Narrows, where the land pinches in the water to 
such an extent that in the vicinity of Chanak the 


The Story of the British Navy 

channel is only about fourteen hundred yards wide. 
They concentrated their guns on the now familiar 
forts known as Rumilieh Medjidieh Tabia, Hamidieh 
II Tabia, and Namazieh, on the European side, and 
Hamidieh I Tabia and Hamidieh III on the opposite 
shore. Simultaneously the Triumph and the Prince 
George attacked the batteries at Soghandere, Dar- 
danos, and Kephez Point. The ships sustained the 
heavy fire of howitzers and field-guns from 10.45 a.m. 
until 12.22 p.m., when the Suffren, the Gaulois, the 
Charlemagne, and the Bouvet, of the French squadron, 
engaged the forts at closer range. The ten ships 
pounded away like Thor with his hammer, and four 
at least of the forts gave them good measure in reply, 
with the result that not one of the vessels remained 
unhit when the land-batteries ceased action a few 
minutes before 1.30. 

Now was evidently the moment to exact complete 
victory. The Vengeance, the Irresistible, the Albion, 
the Ocean, the Swiftsure, and the Majestic slowly 
advanced as the French ships withdrew. A few 
minutes sufficed to prove that the Turks and the 
Germans were playing their old game. The forts 
blazed out with renewed energy. Tragedy followed 
hastily on the heels of triumph. Five shells struck 
the Bouvet, whose bulgy sides, narrowing toward the 
deck, made her appear like a flat-bottomed boat 
floating upside down, with her funnels where her 
keel ought to be. Then she " seemed to stop in a 
great field of foam and hesitate," writes an eye- 
witness. " On board the Gaulois some one had only 
just time to say, ' What's the matter with the Bouvet ? ' 
when an explosion shook the atmosphere and clouded 
the sky, and so the Bouvet sank. We distinctly saw 

The Shambles of Gallipoli 

its two masts, which seemed to close in on one another 
as the hull opened. It was all over in a minute and 
a half." It is believed that the French battleship, 
which was of 12,205 tons displacement, and nearly 
twenty years old, managed to elude two floating mines, 
but was struck by the third floating canister of death. 
Officers and men went to their watery graves standing 
to attention and saluting the flag. Only 64 of the 
Bouvefs crew of 630 were saved. 

Undeterred by this disaster, the attack continued, 
and the sturdy little mine-sweepers went on with 
their work. At about four o'clock the Irresistible 
was struck by a shell, and a minute later a mine 
exploded beneath her. She left the fighting-line with 
a heavy list to port. The crew, obeying the order 
" Everybody aft," betrayed no sign of fear, though 
shells were bursting about them and the firing grew 
fiercer from the forts as the ship drifted toward the 
Asiatic shore. With marvellous dexterity a destroyer 
was brought to the side of the doomed ship. " Boys 
and ordinary seamen, in the boat ! " shouted the 
captain from the bridge, followed by " All hands 
next ! " when the first order had been obeyed. With 
the exception of the officers on the bridge and a few 
men, all had found a place on the destroyer, when 
a shell burst, killing and wounding several on the 
quarterdeck. A noble little band of heroes who had 
volunteered to stay behind to cast off the hawsers 
which held fast the destroyer, flung them overboard. 
With over 600 men the craft left the sinking vessel, 
disembarked them on the Queen Elizabeth, and returned 
for those who still remained on the Irresistible. 

Exactly two hours after the Irresistible had been 
rendered hors de combat the Ocean, which had been 


The Story of the British Navy 

standing by with the idea of taking her in tow, also 
struck a mine. A great rent was torn in the star- 
board side, the steering-gear was shattered, the main 
steam-pipe of the starboard engine was burst, and 
some of the guns were dismounted. In two minutes 
no fewer than five destroyers were alongside, despite 
a terrible cross-fire from Chanak and Kilid Bahr. 
One of the craft was hit by a shell below the water- 
line, but the inrush of water was almost completely 
stopped by the ready resourcefulness of a stoker. 
He promptly sat in the hole and remained in this 
uncomfortable position until a collision - mat could be 
got out. Nothing could be done to salve the Ocean, 
and she sank in thirty-four fathoms of water. Nearly 
all her crew were saved. 

Three wrecks and the Gaulois put out of action by 
reason of the severe injuries she had sustained were 
surely sufficient disasters for one day. Yet almost 
at the same time as the Ocean had sustained her 
mortal wound the Inflexible had encountered a mine, 
which flooded her fore submerged flat. This was 
indeed adding insult to injury, for already she had 
been compelled to deal with a fire which broke out 
on her fore-bridge at the same time as the fore-top 
was hit by a shell. Every one in the latter was either 
killed or wounded. 

At first the Admiral determined to renew the 
attack at the first opportunity, but on further con- 
sideration it was decided that land - operations also 
were necessary. On his own confession, Mr Winston 
Churchill regretted this, and endeavoured to persuade 
Lord Fisher to telegraph to Admiral de Robeck that the 
naval attack was to be resumed. This the First Sea 
Lord refused to do. All three of the lost battleships 

The Shambles of Gallipoli 

were old, having been built between 1893 and 1898 at 
a cost of about 3,100,000. They were replaced by 
the Queen, the Implacable, and the Henri IV. 

The great general attack upon the fortresses at the 
Narrows had failed, and among those who witnessed 
it was General Sir Ian S. M. Hamilton, commander- 
in-chief of the Dardanelles Expeditionary Force. It 
was not an auspicious welcome, particularly as he 
found that the transports had been wrongly loaded. 
He had no alternative but to send them to Alexandria 
to be adjusted, thereby delaying all thought of landing 
for several weeks and giving the Turks an excellent 
opportunity to complete their arrangements for the 
defence of the peninsula. The Navy, however, con- 
tinued to sweep for mines and to bombard the forts 
when the weather was propitious, so as to render the 
task of repairing the latter as difficult as possible. 

The Battle of the Landing on Sunday, April 25, 
1915, belongs rather to the Army than to the senior 
service, although, of course, the Navy had to carry 
the brave sons of the Empire on its broad back until 
they could jump from the boats and wade ashore. 
The troops were to disembark in two main landings, 
the first at a point north of Gaba Tepe, and the second 
at beaches V, W, and X, near Cape Helles, while feints 
were made at S and Y, on either side of the toe of 
the peninsula, to protect the flanks and hold the 
enemy in check. Five battleships, one cruiser, eight 
destroyers, fifteen trawlers, the Ark Royal, and the 
balloon-ship Manica were concerned in the landing 
near Gaba Tepe, which was covered by gunfire from 
the Triumph, the Majestic, and the Bacchante. Howit- 
zers and field-guns, as well as fire from warships 
at Chanak, were at once brought to bear on the 


The Story of the British Navy 

transports, while the narrow beach was swept by 
shrapnel. It was under these terrible conditions that 
the Australians effected a landing, which was not com- 
pleted until the 26th. 

The squadron for the landings at the five points 
to the south was made up of seven battleships, four 
cruisers, six mine-sweepers, and fourteen trawlers. 

The Amethyst and the Sapphire, with the transports 
the Southland and the Braemar Castle, landed their 
troops and the Plymouth Battalion of the Royal 
Marines at Y beach, west of Krithia, at about 4 a.m., 
covered by the Goliath. The Scottish Borderers and 
the Marines boldly scaled the steep cliffs, but after 
severe fighting were compelled to re-embark on the 
following day. The landing at X, near Cape Tekeh, 
was carried out from the Implacable and was entirely 
successful, but at W, between Cape Helles and Cape 
Tekeh, where the same ship and the Euryalus dis- 
embarked some of the Lancashire Fusiliers, the fire 
from the vessels was unable to clear the enemy's 
wire entanglements and trenches, and the Turks 
brought all manner of guns to bear on the attacking 
party. The troops, however, pushed on despite heavy 
losses, and the Maxims which enfiladed the main 
beach were rushed with the bayonet. A particularly 
fierce resistance was offered at V, a strip of about 
300 yards dominated by Seddel Bahr, and it was not 
until the afternoon of the 26th that it was captured. 
Here 2,000 men were landed by the River Clyde, a 
collier nicknamed ' the New Horse of Troy,' because 
Commander Edward Unwin had conceived the happy 
idea of having huge ports cut in her sides, through 
which the men could pour out on to gangways sup- 
ported by lighters and land directly on the beach. 

The Shambles of Gallipoli 

During the night a hill dominating the position 
was captured by other forces, and the beach was won. 
At Camber, a little to the south of S, where the men 
secured a firm footing, some of the Royal Dublin 
Fusiliers attempted to reach the village of Seddel 
Bahr, and had to be withdrawn. The French landing 
at Kum Kale, which was also undertaken to distract 
the enemy while the main attack was delivered, was 
successful, but as it was found that no progress could 
be made the soldiers were withdrawn. 

For many months the military and naval forces of 
the Allies fought with Turks, Germans, and Nature 
in the peninsula, gaining a few yards here, losing a 
few yards there. When the troops were told that it 
was to be evacuated they just gripped their rifles a 
little tighter, jerked the packs on their backs to give 
them more freedom of movement, squared their jaws, 
looked more grim than ever, and set off to take part 
in another campaign. God's bottle holds the tears of 
many valiant warriors. Not a few were shed in the 
shambles of Gallipoli. 



The Battle of the Dogger Bank 

Three points of superiority of the British Fleet must be 
recognized : superiority in tactics, superiority in gunfire, and 
superiority in personnel. M. HANOTAUX 

VARIOUS attempts have been made to explain 
how it came about that a section of the German 
High Sea Fleet was cruising in the North Sea 
at 7 a.m. on January 24, 1915. Admiral Scheer tells 
us that it was merely making a reconnaissance, with 
orders to destroy any of the British light forces it 
might happen to meet. It has been suggested that 
von Hipper contemplated a raid on the Tyne or the 
Firth of Forth, but if one is to judge by the time-table 
of previous raids this does not seem highly probable. 
The bombardment of Yarmouth in the previous 
November, and of Scarborough, the Hartlepools, and 
Whitby in the following month, had taken place in 
the early morning. The same big ships used in the 
latter attack, with the exception of the Blucher, were 
employed on this occasion. 

Germany was officially informed that the project 
was " an advance in the North Sea," which is obviously 
capable of several meanings. Perhaps the defeat of 
von Spec and the German Pacific Squadron in the 
battle of the Falkland Islands by Admiral Sturdee led 
the Higher Command to hope that a section of the 
Grand Fleet might be found patrolling at a grave 

The Battle of the Dogger Bank 

disadvantage as regards guns and numbers. A further 
suggestion is that von Hipper deliberately sought 
Beatty's patrolling squadron with the idea of leading 
him on to a position where ' heavy fathers ' of the 
Fleet were waiting, playing much the same game as 
the British had tried to play in the Heligoland Bight 
affair. This theory seems feasible in the light of 
Mr Churchill's explanation to the House of Commons. 
" The action was not forced," he said, " because the 
enemy, after abandoning their wounded consort, the 
Blucher, made good their escape into waters infested 
by their submarines and mines." In the Admiralty's 
initial announcement of January 24th it was stated 
that the enemy " reached an area where dangers 
from German submarines and mines prevented further 
pursuit." Beatty's preliminary telegraphic report said 
that " the presence of the enemy's submarines sub- 
sequently necessitated the action being broken off," 
but in his dispatch of February 2nd no mention is 
made of either. According to Mr Filson Young, who 
for a time was a secretary on Beatty's staff, the 
Admiral's last signal to his second-in-command was 
" Keep nearer to the enemy," and he quotes Lord 
Fisher as saying that there were no submarines in the 
vicinity and not a mine within fifty miles. " Northern 
mists " and the " fog of war " are not illuminating 
when historical accuracy is sought. There is some- 
thing very suggestive of both about the battle of the 
Dogger Bank, for if we do not know the reason that 
caused the Germans to come out, neither have we 
been allowed to read the dispatch of the officer who 
took charge of the squadron after Beatty, by an un- 
fortunate circumstance, was precluded from taking 
further part in the fighting. 


The Story of the British Navy 

The battle - cruisers at the Admiral's disposal con- 
sisted of the Lion, flying his flag, the Princess Royal, 
the Tiger sister ships each mounting eight 13* 5-inch 
guns and the New Zealand and the Indomitable, 
with a similar number of 12-inch guns. In addition 
all had sixteen 4-inch guns apiece. The New Zealand 
flew the flag of Rear-Admiral Sir Archibald Moore. 
Under Commodore Goodenough were four light cruisers, 
the Southampton, the Nottingham, the Birmingham, and 
the Lowestoft, each having eight 6-inch guns. Com- 
modore Tyrwhitt had the Arethusa, the Aurora, and 
the Undaunted, with their two 6-inch, and six 4-inch 
guns, in addition to destroyer flotillas. 

Tyrwhitt' s vessels were scouting ahead when the 
Aurora spotted an enemy ship shortly after 7 a.m. 
The latter was travelling at about 20 knots, and her 
smoke was hiding her to a certain extent, but there 
was reason to believe that she was the Kolberg, a light 
cruiser with twelve 4*l-inch guns. She was the first 
to open fire. However, it did not take long for the 
Aurora to find the range, and the latter promptly 
fell back on her supporting battle-cruisers. Sir David 
Beatty, on receiving information by wireless that the 
enemy was engaged, immediately altered course in 
the direction from whence the flash of the guns had 
been seen, namely south-south-east, and increased his 
speed to 22 knots. At the same time he ordered 
Goodenough and the destroyers to chase and get in 
touch with the Germans, then nothing more than " a 
smudge on the horizon," to quote the words of an 
eyewitness. It was scarcely necessary to issue these 
instructions, for, as Sir David notes in his dispatch, 
" my wishes had already been forestalled by the 
respective senior officers," and reports came almost 

The Battle of the Dogger Bank 

simultaneously from several ships detailing the 
strength and position of the opposing force. It con- 
sisted of three battle-cruisers, the Seydlitz, flying the 
flag of Rear-Admiral von Hipper, the Derfflinger, the 
Moltkc, and the armoured cruiser Blucher, half a dozen 
light cruisers, and attendant destroyers. The Seydlitz 
and the Moltke each had ten 11 -inch guns, the 
Derfflingcr eight 12-inch guns, and the Blucher twelve 
8'2-inch guns. 

Almost at once the German squadron altered course 
from north-west to south-east and made in the direc- 
tion of home. Beatty followed, closely watching the 
enemy on the port bow, and the light cruisers hung 
on the heels of the retreating foe and reported their 
every movement to the Lion. At 7.30 the enemy 
was going " hell for leather," while the black gangs of 
the British battle-cruisers were working as they had 
never worked before. Their efforts had the desired 
result, for they were forging through the water at a 
speed of over 28 knots an hour, at which pace the 
New Zealand and the Indomitable greatly exceeded 
their normal rate, to the intense pleasure of the 
Admiral, who makes special mention of the record in 
his official communication. The latter was the slowest 
of the battle-cruisers, but made such excellent steaming 
that later on the Admiral signalled, " Well done, 
Indomitable stokers ! " " One hundred stokers," says 
Captain Pelly, " worked below like niggers to get 
more speed out of the Tiger. We were doing 29 knots 
at least, although the ship was only built to do 28. 
We only stoke oil, and we used a good mouthful." l 
The squadrons were then travelling on parallel courses 

1 Statement to the London correspondent of the Telegraaf (Amster- 


The Story of the British Navy 

distant about fourteen miles, and settling down to a 
long, stern chase. 

By 8.52 a.m. the battle-cruisers had closed to within 
20,000 yards of the rear enemy ship, the Blucher. 
Von Hipper was proceeding in line ahead a mere 
landsman's single file the light cruisers leading, and 
destroyers on their starboard beam to screen them. 
Beatty, who was directing operations from the bridge 
and refused to take cover, now manoeuvred to bring 
his heavy vessels on a line of bearing so as to dodge 
the smoke of the funnels as much as possible, and a 
single shell was fired from the Lions foremost turret 
to test the range. It fell short and splashed in the 
water. The process was repeated several times, and 
at 9.9 a.m. the Lion scored her first shot on the 
Blucher. Eleven minutes later the Tiger opened fire 
on the same vessel, Beatty 's flagship shifting to the 
Derfflinger, the third ship in the line. Several salvos 
from the four bow guns hit her at a range which had 
now closed to 18,000 yards. At 9.14 a.m. the enemy 
took up the gauntlet and brought her guns to bear 
on the British. Twenty minutes later the Princess 
Royal concentrated on the Blucher, now showing signs 
of reduced speed by dropping astern. When the New 
Zealand came into range she took the armoured 
cruiser in hand, and the Princess Royal shifted to the 
rear battle-cruiser, severely punishing her in the 

It was then evident that the German destroyers 
threatened an attack, whereupon the Meteor and the 
' M ' Division of destroyers, led by Captain the Hon. 
H. Meade, idrew ahead to drive off the enemy, with 
the result that the hussar- stroke was not delivered. 

Within thirty-five minutes of the Lions first hit on 

The Battle of the Dogger Bank 

the Bliicher, that is to say, at 9.45 a.m., the latter was 
a doomed ship. The leading ship, the Seydlitz, which 
the Lion was now engaging, and which had also 
received attention from the Tiger, was on fire. The 
Princess Royal had concentrated on No. 3, the 
Derfflinger, and the New Zealand on the stricken 
Bliicher, assisted by the Tiger when smoke precluded 
the latter from bringing her guns to bear with pre- 
cision on No. 1. The Moltke, the second ship of the 
German line, seems to have escaped with little damage, 
largely by reason of the dense smoke which she 

The warm reception given to the enemy was evi- 
dently not at all to their liking, for they now disposed 
their destroyers between the British and themselves 
so as to create a heavy smoke-screen. This also 
afforded them an opportunity to alter course and in- 
crease the distance between them and their con- 
testants. Once again the issue of the fight largely 
depended on the men at the furnaces, for Beatty 
ordered the battle-cruisers to " proceed at their 
utmost speed." 

A second destroyer attack was threatened, but the 
heavy fire of the Lion and the Tiger the ' Cats,' as 
they were called by the Admiral made their retire- 
ment imperative, and they fell back in their previous 
positions without carrying the plan into operation. 

An officer of the Meteor, which at 10.40 a.m. was 
ordered to close the line and cover the Lion, thus 
placing the destroyer between the two opposing lines, 
records his unenviable experiences : l " We were abso- 
lutely in the line of fire, shells whistling over and all 
around us, and now and again an enemy's broadside 

1 Liverpool Daily Post, February 7, 1915. 


The Story of the British Navy 

aimed directly at us. Try and imagine a frail de- 
stroyer, steaming 80 knots, with four battle-cruisers 
on either side belching forth flame and smoke con- 
tinually, the screech of the projectiles flying overhead 
seeming to tear the very air into ribbons, 12-inch 
shells dropping perilously near and raising columns of 
water 100 feet into the air a few yards away, the 
spray washing our decks and drenching all hands. 
Picture the awful crashing noise, the explosions and 
flashes as shots took effect, the massive tongues of fire 
shooting up, and the dense clouds of yellow and black 
smoke which obliterated a whole ship from view as 
the shells burst on striking." 

The Blucher, which was gradually increasing her 
distance from No. 8 of the enemy line, hauled out 
to port at 10.43 a.m. She was badly on fire and had 
a heavy list. The Indomitable was ordered to put an 
end to her struggles. 

A few minutes later submarines were sighted, and 
the Admiral personally saw the wash of a periscope. 
As in the affair of Heligoland Bight, the attack was 
thwarted by the use of the helm. 

Shortly after this a lucky chance shot struck the 
Lion in the bow, damaging a feed-tank and putting 
the port engine out of commission. The injury was 
" beyond local repair," and the flagship was therefore 
unable to take further part in the fighting. In his 
preliminary telegraphic report Sir David says that 
this misfortune " undoubtedly deprived " us of a 
" greater victory." The Indomitable was still busy 
with the Blucher, but the Admiral ordered the other 
three battle-cruisers to attack the enemy, the com- 
mand devolving on Rear-Admiral Sir Archibald Moore. 
Signalling a destroyer alongside, Beatty transferred 

The Battle of the Dogger Bank 

his flag to her with as little loss of time as was pos- 
sible, and endeavoured to rejoin the squadron. He 
met his ships at noon retiring. All the German ships, 
with the exception of the Blucher, had succeeded in 

When the Lion left the line, her speed greatly 
reduced, and showing an ugly list to port, a light 
cruiser and several destroyers at once closed to pro- 
tect her from possible attack by submarine. 

" Picture to yourself this monster fighting - ship," 
writes an officer of the Aurora, 1 " stripped bare for 
action and apparently as formidable as during the 
past few hours, when the murderous fire of her 18*5- 
inch turrets had made her seem so omnipotent ; and 
yet, in contrast, apparently unable to steam, and 
perhaps about to sink. So she appeared to us as we 
hastened to her aid. Many of us thought her to be 
a doomed ship and that her crew were on deck 
preparatory to abandoning her. 

" It was not long, however, before we found that 
she was quite seaworthy, though unable to steam more 
than slow speed, and that her crew had mustered 
on deck in order to watch and cheer their Admiral 
over the side as he boarded the destroyer Attack in 
order to be taken back to the battle. The Blucher, 
the sight of which might have reassured us, was out 
of our vision, and we well, we were out of it ; and 
the Admiral's dauntless signal, * Engage the enemy 
more closely,' that was still flying from the Lion's 
masthead, merely seemed to increase our jealousy." 

The Lion, after having fought so splendidly, de- 
veloped further trouble during the course of the 
day. Her remaining starboard engine began to fail 

1 London Magazine, April 1916, p. 208. 


The Story of the British Navy 

owing to priming, and eventually stopped. The 
Indomitable therefore took her in tow, and performed 
her difficult task with great credit to herself. One of 
the proudest possessions of the battle-cruiser is a 
silver statue of a guardian angel with a lion on each 
side, which was presented to their colleagues of the 
Indomitable by their colleagues of the flagship. It 
bears the following inscription, which tells its own 
story in the breezy way associated with the personnel 
of the senior service : " Presented to the captain and 
officers of H.M.S. Indomitable , to commemorate an 
excellent 6^-inch hawser." 

Thus far I have mainly followed Sir David Beatty's 
own story of the action. Let us now glance at the 
work of individual ships. The following has been com- 
municated to the writer by one who fought in the Tiger 
and was mentioned in dispatches : 

" Before coming to the actual engagement I would 
like to draw your attention to an incident which will 
convey how really and truly ready any unit of the 
British Navy is for the supreme effort that at any 
time it may be called upon to make. 

" We had been waiting and waiting months for the 
German ships to make their appearance, and many 
were the grumbles of the old Tars on board, from the 
captain downwards, at our continued unsuccessful 
effort to cross their bows. It was no new thing to 
hear the pipe on board * The Germans won't come 
out,' and as this was received on various mess-decks 
the grumbles became a lively howl and comments 
too numerous to mention filled the air. January 23rd 
dawned with the usual breakfast-time greetings, and 
the subject of discussion, instead of being the likeli- 
hood of a scrap, was as to which football team of the 

The Battle of the Dogger Bank 

ship would be the victor in the afternoon. We had 
several football teams and other parties for recreation 
landed, and as late as 5.30 p.m., when we were re- 
turning, the desired action seemed as far away as ever. 
It was not until some hours later that the call came 
to proceed to sea as the enemy ships were thought 
to be somewhere outside their cotton-wool corner at 

" At 6.30 a.m. on Sunday, the 24th, * Action Station ' 
was sounded. I was having my morning tub at the 
time, so grabbing my clothes, and half dressed, I 
hurried to my duty station, the port 6-inch gun control 
tower, a very limited space, in which four others, a 
midshipman included, had very little room to spare. 
The first indication we had of ' anything doing ' came 
twenty minutes afterwards, when we heard, ' Firing 
off the port bow, sir,' which proved to be our 
destroyers firing at submarines, at the same time en- 
circling us with black smoke to hide us from them. 

" It was about 7.10 a.m. when the Lion, leading the 
line, tried the range, and after a couple of shots got it 
and kept up a very rapid fire. We then got the range 
and our guns began banging away too. I heard Mid- 
shipman say ' The beggars have begun,' and 

looking through the observation slit I saw a salvo 
drop about fifty yards away from us, sending up huge 
sheets of water. We had been a considerable time in 
action when their destroyers attacked us. Our captain 
replied effectively with his 6-inch guns. I saw one 
destroyer get two shells amidships and her mast 
come tumbling down. It seemed to me as if nothing 
could prevent her from sinking. The remainder of 
their destroyers shot away, throwing up big columns 
of smoke as they went. A little while after I saw the 


The Story of the British Navy 

Bliicher about two miles astern of her own line, appar- 
ently left to her fate. I know we peppered her all 

" It was at this time, when waiting for our next 
order, that there was a terrific report, followed by a 
big flash, and I was just conscious of being flung right 
up in the corner before losing my senses altogether. 
How long I remained unconscious I do not know, 
but when I recovered I found I was very much on 
fire ; my neck scarf was burnt almost to a cinder, 
but I managed to rid myself of my smouldering 
clothes. Looking round, I expected to find a hole 
in the roof, but the shell had burst right beneath us, 
and the concussion caused the havoc in our little 
station. The whole place seemed on fire, and the smell 
from the shell was sickly and suffocating. 

" I then noticed the middy lying across the trap 
door, and by the look of him I thought he must be 
dead. I crawled over to him, lifted him up, and found 
that a fragment of shell had struck him in the 
stomach. I was in a sorry plight. I could not leave 
him there, for if I did the fumes would surely kill 
him. I then reported ' 6-inch port gun control- 
tower out of action,' and was permitted to get out, 
if possible. On turning round after reporting, one of 
my mates crawled out from behind the range clock. 
He gave me a bit of a shock, as I thought he was 
killed. I told him to give me a hand with the middy. 
We got either side of him, and lifting him up found 
that his feet were entangled in the remains of the 
iron ladder. 

" After freeing him I lowered him through the 
trap-door. Lying full length on my stomach, I 
lowered him as far as I could, and then had no other 

The Battle of the Dogger Bank 

option but to let him drop into the war distributing 
station, some fourteen or sixteen feet below. The 
iron ladder, the only means of escape, was broken to 
bits, and the war distributing station was in flames. 
I had to drop down after him, risking the chance of 
dropping on top of him. In the meantime my mate 
was attending to the other chap, who was alive but 
in a very bad state. 

" It seemed to me on dropping beside the middy 
that we were out of the frying-pan into the fire. It 
was a veritable hell, the flames were so fierce. Drag- 
ging the middy, I managed to get through the door 
to the fresh air, which was like heaven to me. Now 
my difficulties were increased. There seemed no way 
down to the sick bay. The only escape in the mess 
deck was in a mass of flames, and the rest of the 
hatches were battened down. However, I got the 
middy across the other side of the deck, in a more 
sheltered place, and there I must have fainted, as I 
remembered no more until I found myself in the 
surgeon's hands on a table in one of the messes. My 
head and neck were swathed in bandages. Then I 
learnt to my dismay that so far as we knew only one 
enemy ship had been sunk. This was a disappoint- 
ment to me, as my recollection of the three other ships 
satisfied me that they were completely done for, as I 
thought was also the case with my own ship." 

Another splendid display of heroism was performed 
by a boy 1st Class. The periscope glasses of a turret 
became fogged by smoke and spray, and as it was 
eminently necessary for them to be cleaned a volunteer 
was asked for. Without further ado the lad climbed 
outside, perched himself on the turret, and did the 
necessary work. Then the firing began again, and 


The Story of the British Navy 

nothing further was thought of the boy. He stopped 
in his dangerous position, keeping the glasses as bright 
as a new pin, until the action was over, then promptly 
reported. The coolness of the deed is accentuated by 
the fact that the incident occurred after the explosion 
of the shell in the control-tower, and following the 
death of Engineer-Captain C. G. Taylor and four stokers 
from a similar cause. 

Despite her injuries, only one officer of the Tigei 
and nine men were killed, and three officers and 
eight men wounded a comparatively light casualty 
list. The last shell fired by the Blucher struck the 
Tiger, but did little damage. Another made a hole 
in one of the turrets, and a third dented the side but 
failed to penetrate. A shell struck the deck, but 
glanced off on coming into contact with a steel beam 
and went overboard. 

Probably one of the reasons why Felly's ship was 
struck was because she bore the brunt of the enemy's 
fire when sheltering the Lion after she had been 
rendered hors de combat. 

In due course the German Admiralty sank the 
Tiger, presumably as an offset to the loss of the 
Blucher. Credit for the performance was given to 
Lieutenant-Commander von Uchorn, of destroyer V5, 
",who launched torpedoes from a range of five miles, 
thus showing the exceptional qualities of the German 
torpedoes in range and good explosive powers." 

Let us now try to picture the last few hours of the 
Blucher' s -career. This ship, the largest and most 
modern warship to be sunk since hostilities began, 
was a contemporary of the Invincible class, and at the 
outbreak of war flew the flag of Prince Henry of 
Prussia, who was in command of the German Baltic 

The Battle of the Dogger Bank 

Fleet. While she was building the German Admiralty 
got a great deal of satisfaction in believing that the new 
ship would at least be a match for the Dreadnoughts 
then under construction in British yards. They 
thought they had discovered Lord Fisher's secret, 
and the Bliicher was the result. She was laid down 
at Kiel in October 1906, and completed in September 
1909 at a cost of 1,250,000. A formidable vessel 
beyond question, with her dozen 8'2-inch, eight 6-inch, 
and sixteen 24-pdr. guns, but the ship she was to 
match, and probably to outclass, proved to have an 
armament of eight 12-inch and sixteen 4-inch guns ! 
There was bitter cursing in the Marineamt ! 

The following is the explanation of Count von 
Reventlow in the Frankfurter Zeitung : " The Bliicher 
was laid down when the first English so-called Dread- 
nought cruisers of the Invincible type were in course 
of construction. The English Admiralty intentionally 
published false news about the size and the guns 
of these ships especially the statement that the 
Invincible type would have a displacement of only 
15,000 tons. Thereupon the plans of construction of 
the Bliicher were settled upon the basis of a displace- 
ment of 16,000 tons. When it afterward turned out 
that the Invincible class had a displacement of over 
20,000 tons and a heavy armament of eight 12-inch 
guns, no change was possible, and one could only 
take the Bliicher as she was." The Count is wrong in 
one particular. The Admiralty did not publish false 
news ; it maintained a policy of silence and refused 
to play into the hands of Germany. Both the policy 
and the type were amply vindicated in the North Sea 

As we have seen, the Bliicher was hammered by 


The Story of the British Navy 

each British battle-cruiser in turn, and she also re- 
ceived attention from a number of destroyers. It 
says much for her builders that she kept afloat for so 
long. Her upper works were reduced to a state little 
better than the litter of a scrap-iron shop. The fore- 
turret was literally torn out of her and every member 
of the gun-crew was killed. She was on fire forward, 
and through several gaping holes in her side a dull 
red glow could be seen that was tangible evidence of 
the awful inferno within. Her aft turret continued to 
speak while she sank by the head. 

Several ships claimed to have given the coup de grace 
to the Blucher, which was game to the last. She put 
up a fine fight. There is little doubt, however, that 
the saucy Arethusa was responsible for the firing of 
the torpedo that actually sank her. She fired two 
torpedoes at 1,500 yards, which is considered a very 
near range at a ship practically at rest. The Meteor 
fired a torpedo at 5,000 yards, but it is very doubtful 
if it reached her, as it was probably set for high speed, 
which limits the range to under 4,000 yards. The 
survivors from the Blucher voluntarily stated that 
both the Arethusa's weapons hit. At the time the 
armoured cruiser was under a very heavy fire, so that 
it was difficult to distinguish between ' shots ' from 
projectiles and the explosion of a torpedo, but the 
officers of the Arethusa were firmly convinced that 
they had made one hit. The enemy also fired a 
couple of torpedoes as Commodore Tyrwhitt's vessel 
approached, but neither hit. 

" The spectacle just before she sank was a terrible 
one," says an officer of the Arethusa. " We had seen 
her fore-mast come crashing down, and now the whole 
vessel was wrapped in smoke, with flames showing fore 

The Battle of the Dogger Bank 

and aft. Her gun-turrets and top works were ripped 
and battered, and she was an utter wreck. She heeled 
gradually over and sank lower and lower, and finally 
went under with a plunge and a swirl." 

" You English have too many ships for us," a 
prisoner remarked. " We cannot do anything against 
you on sea. On the land, yes ; on the sea, no." An 
officer who was picked up stated that within thirty 
minutes of the Lion's first hit from 200 to 300 of the 
crew had either been killed or wounded. The first 
words of the Blucher's engineer-commander on being 
rescued were, " Thank God I am out of that hell of 
fire ! " 



< The Day ' at Jutland 

We drew the enemy into the jaws of our Fleet. I have no 
regrets except for the gallant comrades and all pals that have 
gone, who died gloriously. BEATTY 

THERE has been much controversy regarding 
the tactics of the battle of giants fought off 
Jutland on May 31, 1916. The all-important 
result of the engagement was that the German High 
Sea Fleet never again contested the British command 
of the sea. The Dreadnoughts which the Germans 
had so often stated were " skulking among the reeds 
of Ireland " were in undisputed possession. With 
half a dozen battle-cruisers and four of the latest 
battleships of the Queen Elizabeth class, the Barham, 
the Valiant, the Warspite, and the Malaya, under 
Rear-Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas, accompanied by 
fourteen light cruisers and twenty-seven destroyers, 
Beatty was at sea in accordance with orders from 
the commander-in-chief, who had received intelligence 
that the German fleet was on the move. Late in the 
day he sighted Vice- Admiral von Hipper' s advance 
squadron of five battle-cruisers and attendant craft 
bent on .an attack on the cruisers and merchantmen 
in and outside the Skagerrak. Beatty was then pro- 
ceeding northward to join the Battle Fleet. Hipper 
immediately altered course to the south-east to come 
up with Scheer's main body, and Beatty manoeuvred 

c The Day ' at Jutland 

to place his vessels between the enemy and his base. 
Both sides opened fire almost at the same moment at 
a range of about 18,500 yards over ten miles 
which was gradually decreased, and the action was 
sustained with vigour. At first the gunnery of the 
German battle-cruisers was " of a very high standard," 
says Jellicoe, and although there was subsequently a 
falling off, their ships were " still able to fire with 
great accuracy " even when they had been severely 
punished. The Indefatigable was struck by the 
Derfflinger, and blew up. There was also a simul- 
taneous torpedo-attack, the British intercepting a 
light cruiser and fifteen destroyers. In the ensuing 
engagement, fought at close quarters, two German 
destroyers were sunk, the attack on the big ships was 
prevented, and the enemy were forced to fall back 
on their battle-cruisers. The British lost no vessels, 
and although several destroyers had fallen astern in 
the fight, seven pressed home their attack on the 
enemy battle-cruisers. Of these, three sustained a 
terrific fire from battleships at close range, two being 

Meanwhile the battle-cruisers continued to be 
heavily engaged, the conflict being " of a very fierce 
and resolute character." The enemy battleships were 
also taking part in the struggle at long range. The 
accurate and rapid fire of the British was now in 
marked superiority to that of their opponents, despite 
reduced visibility. The third ship in the enemy's 
line was seen to be on fire. This triumph, however, 
was poor compensation for a heavy score on the 
opposite side. A shell hit the Queen Mary, on which 
the Derfflinger and the Seydlitz had concentrated, and 
exploded her magazine. 


The Story of the British Navy 

The guns of this great battle-cruiser had not begun 
to bark and bite until 4.53 p.m. From start to finish 
they kept up a steady fire. Not quite half an hour 
later a big shell hit one of the turrets and put a gun 
out of action. Two explosions followed, leaving 
nothing but a mass of wreckage to mark the graves 
of 1,200 heroes. " She broke up and sank," said an 
eyewitness, "in a wild confusion of red glare and 
smoke so thick that it looked solid, and a terrific 
thunder-clap of an explosion that sounded loud above 
the steady roar of the guns." 

A gun-layer who also saw what happened stated 
that " every shell that the Germans threw seemed 
suddenly to strike the battle-cruiser at once. It was 
as if a whirlpool was smashing a forest down, and 
reminded me very much of the rending that is heard 
when a big vessel is launched and the stays are being 
smashed. She seemed to roll slowly to starboard, her 
mast and funnels gone, and with a huge hole in her 
side. She listed again, the hole disappeared beneath 
the water, which rushed into her and turned her 
completely over. A minute and a half, and all that 
could be seen of the Queen Mary was her keel, and 
then that disappeared." 

When the enemy's Battle Fleet was sighted Beatty 
altered course northward to lead the Germans toward 
Jellicoe's main force. Evan-Thomas's Fifth Battle 
Squadron supported the battle-cruisers " brilliantly 
and effectively," and came under the fire of Scheer's 
leading ships, now obscured by mist, while the British 
vessels were silhouetted against a clear horizon. The 
atmospheric conditions were therefore somewhat similar 
to those against which Cradock had to contend off 
Coronel when the sun had set. For an hour the range 

c The Day ' at Jutland 

was reduced to 14,000 yards, during which time the 
Germans " received very severe punishment," one 
of their battle-cruisers being compelled to haul out 
of the line badly crippled, while others " showed signs 
of increasing injury." At 5.56 p.m. Jellicoe's leading 
ships were sighted on the port bow. Beatty altered 
course to the east, reducing the range by another 
2,000 yards. 

This reinforcement, consisting of Hood's Third 
Battle- Cruiser Squadron, took stations ahead, closing 
with the leading German ship at 8,000 yards. The 
Invincible, severely punishing her opponent, was 
struck in a vital spot and disappeared. " While we 
were at it the gunnery was magnificent," was the 
verdict of a survivor who was picked up by a de- 
stroyer. Then came a shell that tore a great gaping 
hole in one of her turrets. Apparently it found its 
way down the open ammunition-hoist and exploded 
the magazine. Sturdee's former flagship just broke 
in halves and sank in a welter of oil. 

Beatty then went in support, Hood's two remaining 
vessels being ordered to support the line astern. The 
light shortly afterward changed in favour of the 
British. " At intervals," says Beatty in his dispatch, 
" their [the enemy's] ships showed up clearly, en- 
abling us to punish them very severely and establish 
a definite superiority over them." So great was the 
execution that the German line " was crumpled up, 
leaving battleships as targets for the majority of our 
battle-cruisers," while Evan-Thomas also engaged 
battleships. Yet before Jellicoe's ' heavy fathers ' were 
in line the Defence blew up, the Warrior was disabled, 
the Invincible was a total wreck, and the Marlborough 
was torpedoed, though still able to fight. 


The Story of the British Navy 

The Warrior proved worthy of the name she bore. 
She gave no quarter in her last feverish half-hour of 
crowded life. The cruiser entered into action just 
before six o'clock, and the third shell that left the 
starboard gun of the fore-turret crumpled up the 
third funnel of an enemy cruiser nearly 16,000 yards 
away. Then 12-inch shells began to make their 
presence known and felt, many falling into the sea, 
a few taking deadly effect. Again and again the 
captain altered her course, thereby avoiding the full 
force of the terrible storm of steel. The dynamos 
were put out of action, a shell tore through the deck 
and played havoc in the engine-room, and the stoke- 
holds were flooded. Soon the after part of the ship 
was in flames, and she was leaking badly. While some 
of the crew tried with feverish energy to keep the fire 
under, others prepared for the order " Abandon ship," 
which now seemed inevitable. She retired from the 
line in a sinking condition, covered by the Warspite, 
which passed between her and the enemy and con- 
tinued the fighting to much advantage. Like the 
heroine who fought for her children when the der- 
vishes entered Khartoum and murdered Gordon, the 
battleship put her great steel body directly in opposition 
to the enemy. 

Eventually the fire in the Warrior was got under 
control, and something was done to reduce the in- 
take of water, for she was badly holed below. There 
seemed a chance of saving her, and the chance was 
seized. A hawser was thrown from another ship and 
made fast. The Warrior lumbered on for ten hours, 
making a distance of less than fifty miles. After a 
night of tugging and straining, during which calm 
weather gave place to an ugly sea, the cruiser settled 

< The Day ' at Jutland 

down until the quarterdecks were awash. Then, and 
not till then, was she abandoned. 

" The Defence" an eyewitness writes, " had got 
well over toward the enemy, engaging their light 
cruisers, and had sunk one, when through the mist 
emerged the enemy battleships. An armoured cruiser 
could not stand long against them, for it is not 
made for it. There was a tremendous splash of zig- 
zag yellow smoke, and an enormous mass of dark 
grey smoke, in shape like a tremendous elm-tree, 
shot up to the sky. She was gone, all in a minute 
admiral, captain, ship's company, ship. Not a sign 
of the Defence left not one soul of that fine lot of 
men ! " 

The Black Prince was sunk later. " Two great 
shells," says a gunnery-officer, " carried away her funnels 
and fore-turret, a salvo hit her in the magazine, and 
she blew up." 

What shall we say of those wonderful units of the 
Black Navy, the destroyers ? Greater praise cannot 
be given than this, that they carried out what was 
expected of them with amazing zeal. There is no 
finer tale of the sea than the one which the survivors 
of the Shark had to tell. Two columns of German 
destroyers were rushing ahead. She steered between 
them, torpedoed a craft on either beam, and kept up 
a running and merciless fire until a shell exploded on 
the forecastle, killing everybody there ; a second shell 
smashed one of the propellers and damaged the 
steering-gear, while a third penetrated the oil-tank. 
Pretty well everything on deck was carried away, 
and dozens of men lay dead. She was herself struck 
on both bows by torpedoes. Commander Loftus 
W. Jones, with one of his legs shot away above the 


The Story of the British Navy 

knee, was firing the only gun that had not been put 
out of action as the vessel foundered. 

The Onslaught, tearing along at top speed, dashed 
up to an enemy battleship, discharged a couple of 
torpedoes into her great bulky mass, and sank her. 
The pygmy had conquered the giant. True, she 
suffered for it, but brave hearts recked not of suffering 
and death on craft such as these and sister destroyers 
the Fortune, the Acasta, and the rest. " Theirs but 
to do and die." 

A German submarine was sent to Davy Jones's 
locker, thanks to the splendid handling of a sleek 
destroyer. She was in the thick of the fight when 
one of those men who from long experience know the 
meaning of almost every ripple on the water made 
out the track of a torpedo. The ship answered her 
helm instantly, otherwise there would be a destroyer 
less in the British Navy to-day. She swung round 
with the ease of a racing yacht in the Solent, and the 
submerged dart sped harmlessly by. Then the com- 
mander steered a course in the direction from whence 
the torpedo had come. There was no time lost, for 
submarines are as slippery as eels. It could have 
come from no other type of ship, because none was 
sufficiently near at the moment. The T.B.D. raced 
along at 30 knots, paying less heed to the fire that was 
concentrated on her by two ships than to a suspicious 
foam ahead. It flung away the foam when it got up 
to it, and the muffled sound of tearing metal reached 
the ears of the men on the destroyer. 

The Grand Fleet was approaching in six parallel 
columns of four ships each. To bring them into a 
single line it was necessary to deploy. This having 
been accomplished, the German destroyers attacked, 

' The Day ' at Jutland 

and in order to avoid the torpedoes the British 
commander-in-chief turned his battle-squadrons two 
points to port, away from the weapons of destruc- 
tion, and as he did not deem that a sufficient margin 
for safety, a further turn of two points was ordered. 
The manoeuvre was successful, and twenty or more 
torpedoes were observed to pass the ships. It is 
argued that precious time was lost during this move- 
ment, which opened the range and enabled Scheer to 
alter course and flee. Had Jellicoe turned to star- 
board, as certain critics have suggested he ought to 
have done, he might have involved Britain in ruin. 
" The last consideration present in my mind," he 
writes, " was the danger involved in leaving too much 
to chance in a Fleet action, because our Fleet was the 
one and only factor that was vital to the existence 
of the Empire, as, indeed, to the Allied cause. We 
had no reserve outside the Battle Fleet which could 
in any way take its place should disaster befall it, or 
even should its margin of superiority over the enemy 
be eliminated." Mr Filson Young tells us that when 
Jellicoe and Beatty indulged in manoeuvres the latter 
launched destroyer attacks, and to avoid them the 
commander-in-chief " invariably employed the method 
of turning his ships away. I remember," he adds, 
" that the first time I saw this happen from the 
bridge of the Lion a staff officer near me said : * If 
he does that when the Germans attack he can't be 
defeated, but he can't win.' ' 

" The action between the battle-fleets," Jellicoe 
notes in his official dispatch, " lasted intermittently 
from 6.17 p.m. to 8.20 p.m. at ranges between 9,000 
and 12,000 yards, during which time the British Fleet 
made alterations of course from S.E. by E. to W. in 


The Story of the British Navy 

the endeavour to close. The enemy constantly turned 
away and opened the range under cover of destroyer 
attacks and smoke-screens as the effect of the British 
fire was felt, and the alterations of course had the 
effect of bringing the British Fleet (which commenced 
the action in a position of advantage on the bow of 
the enemy) to a quarterly bearing from the enemy 
battle-line, but at the same time placed us between 
the enemy and his bases. . . . During the somewhat 
brief periods that the ships of the High Sea Fleet were 
visible through the mist the heavy and effective fire 
kept up by the battleships and battle-cruisers of the 
Grand Fleet caused me much satisfaction, and the 
enemy vessels were seen to be constantly hit, some 
being observed to haul out of the line and at least 
one to sink. The enemy's return fire at this period 
was not effective, and the damage caused to our ships 
was insignificant." 

As soon as Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt learned 
that a battle was in progress he left Harwich with all 
his available destroyers. Unaware at the time that 
the whole of the High Sea Fleet was out, the squad- 
rons were recalled by the Admiralty for service 
should the German movement be merely a feint to 
cover a larger operation. " They would have been of 
great use on June 1st," Jellicoe has since admitted, 
" had they been on the scene at that time, and it is 
needless to add how much I would have welcomed 
the participation of the Harwich force in the action 
had circumstances admitted of this." 

During the night the commander-in-chief sought to 
place his fleet between the enemy and their base, but 
by steering in three divisions behind the Grand Fleet 
they contrived to escape in a badly mauled condition. 

< The Day ' at Jutland 

Several times during the dark hours the Germans 
were within an ace of being brought to battle. The 
cruiser Champion was in action with four enemy 
destroyers for a few minutes, the Moresby sighted 
four battleships, the Obdurate mistook several light 
cruisers for units of the British Fleet, and the 
Faulknor and her consorts not only attacked several 
battleships, but signalled the Iron Duke, which failed 
to receive the message. 

The battle of Jutland conclusively proved that the 
German ships were more efficiently protected, and 
their gunners provided with better armour-piercing 
projectiles. Both these very serious defects were 
afterward remedied. Of the battleships, the Marl- 
borough was not hit by shell, but torpedoed under the 
fore-bridge, the Barham was hit twice, the Colossus 
three times, and the Malaya eight times ; of the 
battle-cruisers, the Lion was struck twelve times, the 
Princess Royal nine times, the Tiger four times, and the 
New Zealand and the Indomitable once ; of the light 
cruisers, the Castor, the Dublin, and the Calliope were 
hit in several places, the Chester seventeen times, the 
Falmouth, the Galatea, and the Canterbury once. 

The British lost six big ships and eight destroyers, 
the complete force consisting of twenty-four Dread- 
noughts, ten attached cruisers, eight battle-cruisers, 
twelve light cruisers, eight vessels of the First and 
Second Cruiser Squadrons, six ships of the Light- Cruiser 
Squadron, and seventy-eight destroyers. Out of a 
total of twenty-five German battleships (including 
seventeen Dreadnoughts), five battle-cruisers, eleven 
light cruisers, and seventy-seven destroyers, twelve 
battleships, all the battle - cruisers, and ten light 
cruisers were hit or sustained damage by splinters of 



The Story of the British Navy 

bursting shell. The Ostfriesland, & battleship, was 
mined, but able to enter harbour without assistance, 
and the Konig badly battered. Of the battle-cruisers, 
the Lutzow was hit at least forty times, torpedoed 
twice, and finally destroyed by her crew when in a 
sinking condition ; the Seydlitz was hit by twenty- 
eight shells and one torpedo, and had to be beached 
in the Outer Jade, preparatory to getting her into 
dock. The Derfflinger took several months to repair, 
and the Moltke and Von der Tann were hit. Four 
light cruisers, five destroyers, and one submarine 
were sunk. The casualties of the enemy numbered 
3,076, including 2,414 killed or missing, while 5,241 
British officers and men lost their lives nearly twelve 
times as many as at Trafalgar. Rear-Admirals Hood 
and Arbuthnot were numbered among the gallant 
dead. While the British had a large force, the 
Germans actually had more vessels in action than 
Jellicoe. Although no statistics are available of the 
total number of rounds fired by the Grand Fleet, 
1,186 shells were fired by the eight ships of the First 
Battle Squadron alone. 

In a letter written by Admiral von Scheer to the 
Kaiser on the 4th of the following July he categoric- 
ally stated that " there can be no doubt that even 
the most favourable issue of a battle on the high seas 
will not compel England to make peace in this war. 
... A victorious termination of the war within 
measurable time can only be attained by destroying 
the economic existence of Great Britain, namely, by 
the employment of submarines against British com- 
merce. In the conviction that it is my duty, I must 
continue respectfully to dissuade your Majesty from 
adopting any modified form of this warfare, because 

* The Day ' at Jutland 

it would mean reducing this weapon to an anomaly, 
and because the results would probably not be in pro- 
portion to the risk incurred by the boats. Further, 
even with the most conscientious care on the part of 
the commanding officers, it will be impossible to avoid 
incidents in British waters, where American interests 
are so prevalent, which will force us to humiliating 
concessions, unless we are able to prosecute the sub- 
marine campaign in its acutest form." 

On August 19th the German squadrons again 
appeared in the North Sea, but speedily returned to 
port on discovering that the British were in consider- 
able strength. On this occasion two light cruisers, 
the Nottingham and the Falmouth, were torpedoed by 



War in the Underseas 

The submarine has robbed the stronger Navy of its power to 
carry warfare close up to the enemy's coasts and harbours. 


DURING the last two years of the conflict no 
great naval battle was fought. Action was 
principally confined to the realm of the under- 
seas. The problem of the submarine was tackled in 
such a businesslike way that it completely shattered 
the faith of the enemy in that weapon. Germany had 
openly boasted of the impossibility of landing an 
American army in France. The transports would be 
stalked and sunk long before they reached Europe. 
On the outward voyage two vessels only were sunk, 
and less than 300 troops were lost. Of the 2,000,000 
soldiers who went from America to France, over 50 
per cent, passed through England, sometimes at the 
rate of 200,000 a month. 

The convoying of merchantmen also proved ex- 
tremely valuable, though from first to last Britain lost 
7,638,020 tons of shipping and France 696,845 tons. 
Zeebrugge, from which issued raiding destroyers and 
U-boats, was sealed on April 23, 1918, by the sinking 
in the fairway of three obsolete cruisers loaded with 
concrete. At the same time a cutting-out expedition 
landed from the Vindictive and wrought considerable 
damage by destroying gun-emplacements and firing 

War in the Underseas 

buildings, while an old submarine filled with explosives 
was blown up, and destroyed the jetty connecting the 
mole with the mainland. An attempt made at the 
same time to block Ostend miscarried, but was 
achieved by the battle-scarred Vindictive on the 10th 
of the following May. 

Toward the end the moral of the German High Sea 
Fleet broke down, which is another way of saying 
that it lost its nerve. When ordered to put to sea on 
October 28, 1918, ostensibly for manoeuvres, but in 
reality as a gambler's last hazardous throw of the dice, 
the men mutinied in a far more thorough manner 
than had obtained a few months previously. At 
Wilhelmshaven about a thousand sailors were im- 
prisoned for taking part ; Kiel went wholly ' red,' as 
did also the commercial ports of Hamburg, Bremen, 
and Liibeck. Soviets came into being, a Workers' and 
Soldiers' Council was formed, Bolshevism was openly 
preached, and fireworks were let off at Wilhelmshaven 
in honour of the German Republic. 

Apart from the moral issue, three main causes led 
to the defection of the German Navy. It did not fight 
because the battle of Jutland had proved the vast 
superiority of the Grand Fleet ; it did not want to 
fight because the complements of the vessels were 
mainly landsmen by upbringing and inclination ; it 
had no heart to fight because the U-boat campaign 
had failed to win the war according to promise, or 
even to shake Britain's resolution by one iota. Prob- 
ably the ultimate and determining factor was the 
frightful mortality among the submersibles. When 
the High Sea Fleet failed at Jutland the U-boat 
campaign was undertaken in real earnest; when that 
failed the mutiny took place. The death-rate toward 


The Story of the British Navy 

the end was frightful. Of 360 submarines launched 
during 1914-18, 203 were sunk or captured. Britain 
lost fifty-nine submarines. 

That Germany made a bold bid for triumph cannot 
be gainsaid. There were times when the Allied Ad- 
miralties regarded the situation as critical. The 
statistics of the matter are instructive, though not 
pleasing. From first to last Great Britain lost 
9,000,000 tons of shipping, while Allies and neutrals 
suffered to the extent of a further 6,000,000 tons. 
In addition there were eighty British vessels, with an 
aggregate tonnage of 172,554, held up in German 
ports during hostilities, an amount by no means to 
be despised, although it is small compared with the 
enemy tonnage captured and brought into Allied 
service. The latter reached the respectable figure of 
2,392,675. British naval casualties totalled 39,766 
in killed, wounded, interned, and captured. In the 
Merchant Service 14,661 lost their lives and 3,295 
were taken prisoners. War in the underseas was 
waged at frightful cost to all belligerents, both van- 
quished and victors. Taking British losses by enemy 
action and marine risks during the war, the worst 
quarters were in this order : second quarter of 1917, 
third, first, and last quarters of the same year, first 
quarter of 1918, and last quarter of 1916. In April 
1917 550,000 tons of British shipping were sent to the 
bottom. In September 1918 the depletion had been 
reduced to 151,000 tons. 

Captain Persius asserts that, following the action 
off the Danish coast, twenty-three battleships were 
disarmed for the purpose of obtaining metal for con- 
structing U-boats excellent proof of the grip of the 
blockade and of the British victory at Jutland. His 

War in the Underseas 

figures regarding underseas craft are a little difficult 
to follow, because he only deals with what he calls 
' front submarines,' presumably those definitely on 
active service and not merely patrolling in home 
waters. In April 1917, he says, Germany had 126 
U-boats, in the following October 146 ; in February 
1918 she possessed 136 ; in June of the same year, 
113. In January 1917 only 12 per cent, were at sea, 
30 per cent, in harbour, 38 per cent, under repair, and 
20 per cent, incapacitated. His most important admis- 
sion is that the ill-trained crews had no confidence in 
their craft, and that toward the end of the campaign 
it was difficult to get men to work them. He flatly 
contradicts the assertion that losses were made up by 
new construction. 

Apart from the offensive operations of the Navy 
proper, the defensive equipment of traders and the 
introduction of the convoy system in the summer of 
1917 were of enormous importance in thwarting the 
submarine. In addition to merchant-shipping and 
munitions, 16,000,000 fighting-men were escorted, 
and of these less than 5,000 met with disaster. 

Sea-power worked miracles in other directions. 
" The blockade," according to Sir Eric Geddes, " is 
what crushed the life out of the Central Empires." 
That was the work of the Tenth Cruiser Squadron. 
From 1914 to 1917 the ships of that squadron " held 
the 800-miles stretch of grey sea from the Orkneys 
to Iceland. In those waters they intercepted 15,000 
ships taking succour to our enemies, and they did 
that almost under Arctic conditions, and mainly in 
the teeth of storm and blizzard ; out of that 15,000 
they missed just 4 per cent., a most remarkable 
achievement under impossible conditions. Behind the 


The Story of the British Navy 

blockade was the Grand Fleet, the fulcrum of the whole 
of the sea-power of the Allies. If ever testimony were 
needed of the value of sea-power, I can give it.- In 
every individual case when an armistice was signed by 
our enemies, and in one, if not two, cases before, the 
one cry that went up was, ' Release the blockade.' ' 

Admiral Sir Percy Scott holds that four years of 
U-boat warfare have " tragically demonstrated the 
truth " of his neglected warning, but he also acknow- 
ledges that the Navy did not fail us. " From the 
first," to quote the apostle of the submarines, " Great 
Britain kept command of the seas." His prophecy of 
1914 that the day of the big surface-ship was over 
has not been fulfilled, though the submarine may be- 
come the capital ship of the future. He contends 
that if Germany could have placed 200 U-boats on 
the ocean trade-routes at the outbreak of war she 
would have defeated the Allies. She might have done 
so, but the important fact is that she did not possess 
the requisite number. At that time we were lament- 
ably short of light craft, German cruisers and raiders 
were running amok in various parts of the world, 
and the Grand Fleet was fully occupied ' containing ' 
the main German squadrons. Given the hypothetical 
conditions mentioned by the Admiral, it is not im- 
probable that the enemy would " have defeated the 
Allies and practically conquered the world," but it 
is not " certain," as Sir Percy asserts. Germany 
regarded the intensified U-boat campaign as a sure 
thing ; we know the result. In his now famous letter 
to The Times, one of the eminent correspondent's 
contentions was that " the introduction of vessels 
that swim under water has already done away with 
the utility of ships that swim on the top of the water," 

War in the Underseas 

that " as the motor- vehicle has driven the horse from 
the road, so has the submarine driven the battleship 
from the sea." The Great War of 1914-18 disproved 
this very definite statement, and witnessed the introduc- 
tion of mighty * hush ' ships which lived, and moved, 
and had their being on the surface of great waters. 

On the other hand we should be extremely foolish 
if we neglected the lessons of the war as regards the 
latest naval arm. The records of British submarines 
are eloquent of their effectiveness. Summed up they 
amount to this : Two battleships sunk and three 
badly damaged ; two armoured cruisers destroyed ; 
two light cruisers sunk and one badly damaged. The 
long obituary list also included seven destroyers, five 
gunboats, twenty submarines, five armed auxiliaries, 
fourteen transports, two store-ships, half a dozen 
ammunition- and supply-ships, fifty-three steamships, 
197 sailing-vessels, and one Zeppelin, making a grand 
total of 315 vessels dead and buried. As to the sea- 
going qualities of the craft, one British commander 
made twenty-four cruises, covering 22,000 miles, in a 
year, while in a single month British submarines 
navigated 105,768 sea-miles, one mile in every ten 
being in the submerged position. Allied naval losses, 
while they made no appreciable difference to the 
situation, were not negligible. Approximately 230 
fighting-ships were lost from all causes by Great 
Britain during the war. Fifteen battleships, five battle- 
cruisers, twenty-eight light cruisers, 176 destroyers, and 
110 submarines were built. 

All available facts show that warships travelling at 
a good speed are comparatively immune from attack 
by submarine. There is also little danger when they 
are going slowly, provided they have a covering screen 


The Story of the British Navy 

of destroyers. The majority of battleships and cruisers 
that fell victims to U-boats were taking life easy, as 
for instance the Aboukir, the Cressy, and the Hogue in 
the North Sea, and the Formidable in the Channel. 

The Great Collapse revealed no new wonders. One 
ugly brute, believed to have been responsible for the 
sinking of 47,000 tons of shipping, carried forty-two 
mines and twenty-two torpedoes. An officer ex- 
plained that his periscope was missing and his compass 
gave an incorrect reading because a steamer had ' sat ' 
on his boat. The majority of the submarines sur- 
rendered were certainly not of the cruiser type about 
which one heard so much during the war. The largest 
U-boat was 320 feet long, with a surface displacement 
of 2,160 tons, and an armament of two 5'9-inch guns 
and six torpedo-tubes. Accommodation was provided for 
a crew of eighty-three. The remainder were mostly of 
800 tons displacement, 225 feet long, and 22 feet beam. 

Eleven German battleships, five battle-cruisers, eight 
light cruisers, and fifty destroyers were surrendered 
shortly after the Armistice, most of them being subse- 
quently scuttled at Scapa by their crews. No fewer than 
158 submarines were also given up. Under the terms of 
the Peace Treaty eight battleships, eight light cruisers, 
forty-two destroyers, and fifty torpedo-boats were handed 
over. Two battleships and two battle-cruisers on the 
stocks were also to be surrendered or broken up. 

Ten centuries had gone in the making of the British 
Navy ; it took four and a half years for the senior 
service to secure the defeat of its most formidable rival 
in the greatest sea-conquest of all time. 



Aboukir, 378 

Abyssinian expedition (1868), 243 

' Acapulcho ship,' 150 

A casta, 366 

Admiral, title of, 52 

' Admiral ' class, 242 

Agamemnon, (1801) 217, (1854) 237, 
(1915) 329 seq. 

Aircraft, 8-n 

Alacrity, 265 

Albion, (1854) 237, (1915) 332 

Alexander II, Pope, 31-3 

Alexandria, bombardment of, 242 

Alfred, King, 24-6 

Algerine pirates, 230 

Allardyce, Hon. W., quoted, 278 

Amazon, 184 

Amethyst, 336 

Amphion, 254 

Ancient ships : viking, 7, 18 ; Egyp- 
tian, 19, 21 ; cescs, 26; twelfth cen- 
tury, 39 

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 23, 25-7, 30 

Ann, 140 

Anson, Adm., 149-51, 163 

Arbuthnot, Rear-Adm., 370 

Arethusa, (1854) 237, (1914) 256-8, 
261-4, (1915) 195, 346 seq. 

Ariadne, 263 

Ark, 97, roo, 102, 107 

Ark Royal, 330, 341 

Armada, Spanish, 88-9, 96-7, 99-100, 
102 10 

Armaments, guns, etc. : in 1350, 60 ; 
I3&5, 63 ; 1487, 67 ; 1507-1604, 
83; 1610, 112; 1653 ('rates' 
introduced), 114-15 ; 1868, 239 ; 
1880-7, 242-3 ; 1905-14, 249 ; 
gunfire's superiority, 8 ; weight of 
shells, 6, ro-n 

Arte'mise, L', 211 

Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir E., quoted, 334 

Athelstan, King, 28 

Audacious, (1794) 174-5, (1798) 211, 
(1914) 8, 252 

Aurora, 346 seq. 

Austen, Adm., 234 

Australia, 310 

Australian Navy, 310 
Ayesha, 315, 317-20 

Bacchante, 341 

Balfour, Earl of, quoted, 269 

Bantry Bay, 123, 184 

Barbados, 117, 138 

Barbary corsairs, 230 

Barcelona, 132 

Barham, 360-69 

Barnaby, Sir N., 242 

Basque traders, 56-7 

Battle-cruiser, use of, 7-8 

Battle-line first adopted, 121 

Battleships, ancient, 42-3, 52 

Bayeux Tapestry, 32, 33 

Beachy Head, 126 

Beatty, Earl, 245-6, 255-6, 262, 345- 

346, 360 seq. 
Bedford, 182 
Bell, Henry, 232 
Belleisle, 223 
Bellerophon, (1794) 174, (1798) 211, 

(1805) 229, (1868) 239 
Benbow, 242 

Benbow, Adm., 128, 137-8, 140-3 
Benin, 244 

Beresford, Commander J. A. H., 311 
Beresford, Lord, 244 
Berry, Capt., 209-10, 213 
Birmingham, 346 seq. 
Black Hulk of Flanders, 65 
Black Prince, 365 
Blake, Adm., 114-21 
Blanche Nef, 36, 37 
Blankenberghe, 53-5 
Blenheim, 200, 203 
Blockade duty, 184, 375 
Blucher, 195, 347 seq. 
Bombardment by Navy alone, 147 
Boscawen, Adm., 151, 155, 161, 163 
Bouvet, 329 seq. 
Braemar Castle, 342 
Breda, 138, 141, 142 
Bremer, Commodore Sir G., 233 
Breslau, 324 seq. 
Brest, 72, 171, 173-5 
Bristol, 281-93 


The Story of the British Navy 

Britannia, 204 

Brownrigg, Rear-Adm. Sir D., 282 

Brunswick, 177 

Bucentaure, 225 

Burmese War (1885), 244 

Burnet, Bishop, quoted, 129-30 

Byng, Vice-Adm., i53~4i *6i 

CABINS, introduction of, 51 

Cabot, John, 70 

Cadiz, 91, 129 

Ca-Ira, 181-2 

Calais, 65, 76, 100 

Calliope, 369 

Camperdown, 207-8 

Canada, 161-3 

Canopus, (1914) 266, 268, 272, 276, 

281-93, 333 
Canterbury, 369 

Cape of Good Hope, 183, 219, 227 
Capital ships, present cost of, 235 
Captain, (1794) 182, (i797) 196, 

199-202, 205, (1870) 240-1 
Carden, Vice-Adm., 324, 327 
Carnarvon, 281-93 
Cartagena, 148-9 
Castor, 369 
Censeur, 182 
Centurion, 149, 150 
Cetywayo, 244 
Ceylon, 183 
Champion, 369 
Charlemagne, 331 
Charles I, 112-14; II, 120 
Charles, Archduke, 129, 132, 138 
Chatham, Earl of, 161 ; quoted, 163 
Cherbourg, 73 
Chester, 369 

Chiloe (Red Cross steamer), 280 
China, 233, 238 
Christian, Rear-Adm., 256 
Christopher, 55 

Churchill, Wins ton, 126, 291, 340, 345 
Cinque Ports, 35, 47, 49-52 
Circumnavigation of the world, 69 
Clan Matheson, 299 
Codrington, Adm., 231 
Coles, Capt. Cowper, 240-1 
Collingwood, Adm., 191, 200-3, 205, 

220, 223-4, 226 
Colossus, (1797) 193, (1805) 226, 

(1916) 369 

Columbus, Christopher, 69, 70 
Colville, Commander Hon. S. C. J., 245 
Comet (Bell's), 232 
Commander-in-Chief, 128 
Compass, the, 60 
Condor, 242 


Conflans, Marshal, 155-60 
Convoy system, 119 
Cook, Capt. James, 162 
Copenhagen, 215-18, 228 
Corbett, Sir J., 254 
Cordelier, 72 
Cornwall, 281-93 
Cornwallis, 329 seq. 
Cornwallis, Adm., 182-3, 220 
Cornwallis, Lord, 167 
Coronel, battle of, 271 seq. 
Count of the Saxon Shore, 20 
Cradock, Rear-Adm. Sir C., 265, 268 

271-2, 279 
Cressy, 378 
Cromwell, 120 
Crusades, 36, 39-43 
Culloden, (i794) 177, (1797) 193, 197- 

200, 205, (1798) 209 

DA GAMA, Vasco, 69 

Damme, 45-6 

Dardanelles, 227, 324 seq. 

Dartmouth, 63 

de Bazan, Don Alonso, 108, no 

de Bazan, Alvaro, 90, 92 

de Burgh, Hubert, 46-50 

de Chair, Adm., 254 

de Cordova, Don Jos6, 194, 196-9, 

203, 205 

de Horsey, Adm., 243 
Deal, 114 

Defence, 268, 363-4 
Defender, 259 
Defiance, (1588) 97, (1701) 139-41, 

(1759) 157 
Denmark, 214, 218 ; the Danes, 18, 


Derfflinger, 347 seq., 361-70 
Deschesnes, Vice-Adm., 236 
Devastation, 241 
Diaz, Bartholomew, 69 
Digna, Osman, 245 
Dispatch, first naval, 55 
Dogger Bank, 194, 344 seq. 
Dover, 35, 47-50, 52, 120 
Dragon, 80 
Drake, Sir Francis, 82, 84-7, 90-2, 

95-100, 104, 106 
Dreadnought (at Trafalgar), 226 
Dreadnoughts (1905), 7, 248 
Dresden, 269, 290-1 
Dublin, 369 

Duckworth, Adm., 176-8, 220 
Duff, Vice-Adm., 156, 163 
Duke of Wellington, 235 
Duncan, Adm., 207-8 
Dundas, Adm., 236 


4, 260 ; E6, 255 ; E8, 255 
East India Company, 80, 135 
Eastern routes and trade, 43, 69, 78-80 
Edward I, 51 ; II, 52 ; III, 52, 55, 56, 

58, 60; IV, 65-6; VI, 75-6 
Egmont, 203 

Egypt, 208 seq., 218, 227, 232 
Elephant, 217 

Elizabeth, Queen, 80, 82, 87, 107 
Emden, 294 seq., 308 seq. 
Essex, 159, 161 
Eustace the Monk, 46, 48, 49 
Evan-Thomas, Rear-Adm. H., 360 seq. 
Excellent, 199-201, 203 
Exmouth, Lord, 220, 230 


Falmouth, (1701) 140, 141, (1914) 262, 

(1916) 369, 371 
Fashoda, 246-7 
Faulknor, 369 
Fearless, 257-8, 261, 263 
Ferguson, Surgeon, quoted, 216 
Firedrake, 2556, 261 
Fire-ships, 42, 128, 147, 250 
Fisher, Lord, 70, 242, 248, 281, 340 
Fitch, John, 232 
FitzStephen, Thomas, 36-8 
FitzwilUam, Adm., 71, 73 
Formidable, 331, 378 
Formidable (French), 157, 159, 183 
Fortune, 366 
Fox, 234 
France: co-operation with, against 

China (1856), 238; her fleetin 1914, 


Wars and fights with: in 1216, 

46-8; 1415,62-4; 1511-12, 71-2; 

1515, 73; 1558, 76; 1665, 120; 

1689, 123; 1690, 127; 1693, 128; 

1702-4, 129-34 ; 1744-5, 151 ; 

1759, 161 ; 1775, 165 ; 1793, 169 

seq. ; 1798, 208 ; 1803, 219 seq. 
Fremantle, Vice-Adm. Sir E. R., 244 
Frigates, 194 

Frobisher, Martin, 81, 98-100, 104, 108 
Froissart, quoted, 59, 62 

Galatea, 369 

Gaulois, 329 seq. 

Genereux, Le, 211-13 

Genoa, 78 

George II, 154; III, 219 

German High Sea Fleet (1914), 9, 126, 

252-3, 292, 378 
Gibraltar, 132, 166 
Gilbert, Humphrey, 136 
Gild as, cited, 21 

Glasgow, 266, 271-6, 279, 281 seq. 
Gloire, La, 234, 237 
' Glorious First of June,' 169 
Glossop, Capt. J. C. T., 313 seq. 
Gloucester, (1742) 150, (1748) 189, 

(1914) 327 seq. 

Gneisenau, 269-71, 274, 279, 285-6 
Goeben, 10, 324 seq. 
Goliath, (1798) 209, (1914) 342 
Good Hope, 265-6, 271-5, 279 
Goodenough, Commodore, 256, 346 
Gordon Relief Expedition, 244 
Gravelines, 76, 103, 105 
Great Harry, 75 
Greenwich, 139, 140 
Grenfell, Sir F., 245-6 
Grenville, Sir R., 108-10 
Grey, Viscount, 291 
Grog, 146 

Guepratte, Rear-Adm., 330 
Gymnote, 250 

HAKLUYT, cited, 70 

Hampshire, 301, 308 

Hardy, Adm. Sir Charles, 158, 166 

Hardy, Vice-Adm. Sir Thomas M., 

196, 225, 232 
Harfleur, 63 
Harold, King, 30, 31 
Hawke, Adm., 155-63 
Hawkins, William, 87, 100, 104, 108 
Heligoland Bight, 255 seq. 
Henri Grace a Dieu, 75 
Henry I, 36-8; II, 38; III, 48-51; 

IV, 63 ; V, 64-5 ; VI, 65-6 ; VII, 66- 

70; VIII, 71, 73-5 
Hercules, 208, 239 
Heros, L', 160, 161 
Hague, 264, 378 
Holland, in ; help from, 65, 101, 

106, 123-4, 127 ; hostilities with, 

118-21, 167 
Holland, John P., 250 
Hood, 235, 249 

Hood, Adm. Vis., 168, 170, 180-1, 191 
Hood, Rear-Adm., 370 
Hood, Commodore Sir S., 220 
Howard, Sir E., 71-3 
Howard, Lord Thomas, 73, 108-9 
Howard, Lord Win., 76 
Howard of Effingham, Lord, 87, 90, 

95-106 ; his nephew, 108-9 
Howe, Adm. Earl ('Black Dick'), 

160, 165, 166, 170-80, 183 
Hudson Bay Company, 137 
Hundred Years War, 52-65 
' Hush ' ships, 377 
Hythe, 50 


The Story of the British Navy 

Implacable, 341-2 

Indefatigable, (1797) 184, (1916) 361 

Indomitable, 346 seq., 369 

Indomptable, 174, 224 

Inflexible, (1881) 241-2, (1914) 251, 

281-93, 329 seq. 
Invincible, (1801) 215, (1914) 249, 

251, 263, 281-93, (1916) 363 
Ireland, 38, 51, 123-4, 184 
Iron, 235 

Iron Duke, 252, 369 
Irresistible, (i797) 203, (1914) 33*, 

337, 339 

Jacobin, 179, 180 

James I, 111-12; II, 122 seq. 

Japan, 238, 250 

Jellicoe, Viscount, 126, 203, 243, 252, 

255, 360 seq. 

Jenkins" Ear, War of, 144 seq. 
John, King, 44, 46-9 
Juste, (1759) 159, (1794) 180 
Justinus of Nassau, 101, 106 
Jutland, 8, 126, 157, 203, 360 

Karlsruhe, 253 

Keith, Adm., 220 

Kelly, Capt. W. A. H., 327-8 

Kempenfelt, 168 

Kent, 281-93 

Keppel, Adm. Viscount, 166 

Keyes, Commodore R., 255, 261 

Kinsale, 115, 123 

Kitchener, Earl, 245, 246 

Kolberg, 346 seq. 

Koln, 261-4 

Konig, 370 

Kuper, Adm. Sir A., 238 


Laertes, 258 

Lambert, Commodore, 234 

Laughton, Sir J. K., 214 

Laurel, 258-9 

Le, Prince, of Nagato, 238 

Leander, 213 

Leipzig, 269, 285, 287 

Les Espagnols sur Mer, battle, 56-60 

Levant Company, 135 

Leviathan, 174 

Ley bourne, Sir W., first Chief Adm., 52 

Liberty, 258 

Lightning, 232, 247 

Limpus, Rear-Adm. A. H., 326 

Lion, 262-3, 346 seq., 369 

Lissa, 241 

London, 23, 28-30, 47-8, 88-9 

Lord Nelson, 335 


Louis XIV, King of France, 123-9 
Lowestoft, 264, 346 seq. 
Luce, Capt. J., 271, 273, 278 
Lurcher, 255-6, 261 
Lutzow, 370 


Macedonia, 281-93 

Madras, 151-2, 300-1 

Madre de Dios, 82 

Magellan, 69 

Magnanime, 157, 160 

Mainz, 261-3 

Majestic, 338, 341 

Malaya, 360-70 

Malta, 219 

Manica, 341 

Marchand, M., 246 

Maria Juan, 105 

Maritime Confederacy (1780], 214-18 

Marlborough, 8, 363, 369 

Marlborough, Duke of, 129, 134 

Mars, (1759) 158, (1794) 183, (1805) 223 

Mary Rose, 74 

Mary of the Tower, 64 

Medina Sidonia, Duke of, 92-4, 

98-101, 104, 106 
Melbourne, 310, 314, 318 
Melville, Viscount, 231 
Mercantile Marine, 38, 42-3, 66, 121 
Merrimac, 239-40 
Messina, fleet at (1190), 40-1 
Meteor, 195, 349 seq. 
Miller, Capt., 201-2, 212 
Miller and Symington, 232 
Milne, Adm. Sir B., 327 
Minerve, (1797) 194, 195-6, 203 
Mines, 8, 250 
Minotaur, 318 
Moltke, 347 seq., 370 
Monarch (1797) 207, (1801) 217 

(1870) 240 
Monitor, 239-40 

Monkey (first steamer in Navy), 232 
Monmouth, 266-7, 270-5, 277, 279 
Montagne, 179, 180 
Montagu, Rear-Adm., 172, 173, 220 
Moore, Rear-Adm. Sir A., 346, 350 
Mora, 33-4 
Moresby, 369 
Mortello, tower of, 181 
Mousquet, 305 
Muscovy Company, 78, 135 

NAPIER, Vice-Adm. Sir C., 232, 235 
Napoleon Bonaparte, 170, 192-3, 212, 

215, 226-7, 229 
Navarino Bay, 231 


Navigation Laws, 50, 62, 117, 152, 214 
Nelson, 181-2, 191, 195, 199, 201-2, 

204-5, 208, 212, 215-17, 220-5 
New Pommern, 311 
New Zealand, 262, 346 stq., 369 
Newfoundland, 70 
Nile, battle of the, 208-13 
Nordenfeldt, 250 
North Foreland, 120 
North Sea, 5, 248, 254 
Norway, 29 ; Norsemen, 17-19, 21-2 
Nottingham, 262, 346 seq., 371 
Nuestra Senhora de Cabodonga, 150 
Nurnberg, 269, 277, 285, 288 

Obdurate, 369 

Ocean, 334, 337, 339~4O 

Oil, 248 

Onslaught, 366 

Orion, (i794) 175, 178, 179, (*797) 203 

Osborn, Adm. Sherard, 240 

Osborne, 248 

Ostfriesland, u, 370 

Otranto, 266-8, 271-3 

PARKER, Adm. Sir Hyde, 215-18 
Parker, Rear- Adm. Sir W., 175-9, 

193, 205, 233 

Parma, Duke of, 91, 93, 101 
Paul Lecat, 303 
Pay, naval, 66, 89, 115, 206 
Pearson, Lieut., of 69th Regt., 201-2 
Peirse, Vice-Adm. Sir R., 334 
Penn, Adm. Sir Wm., 117, 119 
Petropavlovsk, 250 
Pett, Phineas, 112, 114 
Philip Augustus, King of France, 44-5 
Philip II, of Spain, 76, 84, 87, 89, 91, 

107-8, no; Philip V, 145 
Phillimore, Adm. Sir A., 178 
Pierola, 243 

Pilgrim Fathers, 136, 137 
Pitt, Wm., the Younger, 169, 191, 219 
Plymouth, 62, 89, 97, 136 
Poisonous gas, 39, 42 
Popham, Adm. Edward, 114, 115, 116 
Popham, Commodore Sir Home, 227 
Portland, 23, 99, 120 
Portsmouth, 36, 50-2, 64-5, 71 
Portugal, 83, 219 
Powerful, 247 
Prince George, 334 
Prince Royal, 112 
Princess Royal, 262, 346 seq., 369 
Privateers, 51, 75, 81-2 

Queen, 174, 177 

Queen Charlotte, 174, 179, 180 

Queen Elizabeth, 249, 331 seq. 
Queen Mary, 249, 262, 264, 361-70 
Quiberon, 153 seq. 

RALEIGH, Sir Walter, 87, 109, 136 

Rata Coronada, La, 97 

Rattler (first screw- warship), 234 

Rawson, Adm. Sir H., 244 

Redoutable, 225 

Reed, E. J., 241 

Regent, 66, 72 

Resolution, 157, 159, 161 

Revenge (Drake's), 95, 100, 108-10 

Revenge, 157 

Richard I, 38-43 ; II, 61 ; III, 66 

Richard of Devizes, quoted, 41 

Rochelle, 59 

Rochester, 23, 47 

Rodney, Adm., 163, 166-7 

Rooke, Adm., 12830, 132-4 

Royal George, 156-8 

Royal Sovereign, (1794) 183, (1805) 

223-4, (1860) 240 
Rozhdestvensky (later Adm.), 247 
Ruby, 138-40 
Rupert, Prince, 114-16 
Russell, 174, 217 

Russia, 214-15, 218, 227, 236 seq., 253 
Russo-Japanese War (1904-5), 250 
Rye, 50, 53, 61 

ST LUCIA, 163, 166 

St Vincent, Cape, 91, 163, 186, ig^seq. 

St Vincent, Earl of (John Jervis), 170, 

185-90, 191-205, 21213, 220 
Saints, battle of the, 167 
Salisbury, Marquess of, 248 
Salle du Roi, Le, 59 
Salvador del Mondo, 200 
Samoa, 310-11 
San Felipe, 105, 109 
San Lorenzo, 103 
San Martin, 94, 98, 104-5, 107 
San Salvador, 89, 98, 99 
SantissimaTrinidad, 194, 199, 203, 225 
Sapphire, 334 
Satsuma, Prince of, 238 
Scharnhorst, 269-71, 274-5, 279, 282, 


Scott, Adm. Sir P., 247, 376 
Seven Years War, 153-63 
Seydlitz, 347 seq., 361-70 
Seymour, Lord H., 98, 100, 104, 106 
Seymour, Adm. Sir E. H., 238 
Shark, 365 
Ship-money, 28, 112 
Shovel, Sir C., 125, 127-8, 132-4 
Simeon of Durham, quoted, 22 


The Story of the British Navy 

Slave-traffic, 143, 145 

Sluys, 51-3, 56*1., 101 

Soleil Royal, 128, 157, 159, 161 

South Sea Company, 145 

Southampton, 52, 79 

Southampton, 346 seq. 

Sovereign, 66 

Spain, 56-60, 76, 83 ; the Armada, 
87 seq. ; Plate Fleets defeated in 
1591, 108-10 ; in 1653, 116 ; peace 
with, in 1603, in ; wars with, in 
1701-2, 129, 138 ; in 1779, 166 ; 
in 1797, 197-8 

Steam, 231 seq. 

Stopford, Vice-Adm. Sir R., 232 

Strachan, Adm. Sir R., 186, 226-7 

Sturdee, Vice-Adm. Sir F. C. D., 281 

Submarines, n, 250, 373-7 

Suffolk, 266 

Suffren, 329 seq. 

Sweden, 214, 218, 226 

Swiftsure, (i759) *57 (1805) 226, 
(1914) 333 

Sydney, 310, 312-13, 316, 318, 320-3 

Te"meraire, 225 
Tennyson-D'Eyncourt, Sir E. H. W., 


Tenth Cruiser Squadron, 375 
Texel, 121 

Thomas, " ship-cog," 56, 58 
Thunderer, (1794) 174, (1869) 241 
Tiger, 249, 346 seq., 369 
Tonnant, (1798) 210, 212, (1805) 223, 


Torbay, (1702) 131, (i759) *57 
Torpedoes and torpedo-boats, 247-8 
Torrington, Earl of, 122-7 
Tourville, Adm., 123, 124, 126, 127 
Trade's Increase, 112 
Trafalgar, 7, 195, 221 seq. 
Treaties : Ryswick, 128-9 ; Grand 

Alliance, 129 ; Utrecht, 143 ; 

Aix-la-Chapelle, 152 ; Paris (1763), 

164 ; Amiens, 218 ; Tilsit, 227 
Trident, 234 
Trinity House, 71 
Triumph, (1588) 83, 89, 99, 100, (1794) 

183, (1915) 329 seq. 
Troubridge, Capt., 191, 193, 198 
Troubridge, Rear-Adm. E. C. T., 327 
Turkey Company, 135 
Turks, 67-8, 227, 324 
Tyrwhitt, Commodore R., 256, 261-2, 

264, 346, 368 

U-BOAT campaign, 373-6 

Undaunted, 346 seq. 

U.S. Civil War (1860), 239 seq. 

Vs, 356 ; Vi87, 259, 260 

Valdivia (Red Cross steamer), 280 

Valiant, 360-70 

Vanguard, 209-10 

Van Tromp, Martin, 117-20 

Venerable : log-book quoted, 207 

Vengeance, 329 seq. 

Venice, 43, 78-9 

Vernon, Adm. (' Old Grog '), 146-9 

Victoria, 243 

Victory, (1588) 100, (1794) 170, (1797) 

199, (1805) 7, 223, 225 
Vigo, 129 seq. 

Villaret-Joyeuse, Adm., 172-6, 180 
Villeneuve, Adm., 209, 221-6 
Vindictive, 372-3 
Vitu, Sultan of, 244 
von Hipper, Rear-Adm., 347, 360 
von Miiller, Capt. K., 295 seq. 
von Scheer, Adm., 370 
von Spec, Adm., 269, 272-9, 283-93 

WALPOLE, Horace, 146, 161, 170 

Walpole, Robert, 144 

Warrior, (1860) 234-5, 239, 242, 

(1916) 363-4 
War spite, 360-70 
Warwick, Earl of, 113-14 
Warwick the King-maker, 65 
Washington, George, 165 
Wellington, Duke of, 228 
West Indies, 137, 183 
Whitehead, R., 247 
White Bear, 89 
White Ship, story of, 36-8 
Wight, Isle of, 26, 30, 61, 63, 89, 99 
William the Conqueror, 31-5 
William Rufus, 36 
William III, 123, 129, 137 
Winchelsea, 35, 50, 56-9, 61 
Windsor, 139, 140 
Wolfe, Gen., 162, 163 
Wooden ships, 241 
Woolwich, 71, H2 

Yarmouth, 3034, 306 
Young, Fuson, quoted, 367 

Zhemtchug, 304-5 



Wheeler, Harold Felix Baker 
The story of the British